What started out as a breath of fresh air after their last offensively lacking series, quickly turned into a nightmare for the Washington Nationals (47-46) as they dropped the series opener to the Miami Marlins (34-57) 3-8.
Stephen Strasburg trotted out of the dugout in the bottom of the first inning already with a 3-0 cushion, but his comfortable lead quickly crumbled into the worst start of his career.
Denard Span laid the first brick in building the Nationals’ lead by taking a walk to start off the first inning against Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi. Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper followed with a single and a walk to load the bases.
After Ryan Zimmerman struck out, Adam LaRoche gave Nats fans something to cheer about with a two run double. Jayson Werth grounded out to bring home the final run of the inning, and it appeared to be all roses for Washington’s home team.
But the excitement – at least of the positive variety – was short-lived.
Strasburg threw 36 pitches in the first inning as the Marlins batted around the order and scored five runs, baffling Strasburg fans everywhere. He walked the bases full to start the inning, getting just one out in four batters. He then gave up a bases-clearing triple to Marcell Ozuna, followed by three singles, and before the second inning the Marlins led the Nationals 5-3.
The bleeding didn’t stop there. Strasburg gave up a towering two-run home run to Giancarlo Stanton in the second inning, giving the Marlins a four run advantage and prompting Davey Johnson to prevent him from starting the third inning.
Strasburg threw a total of 66 pitches in two innings, and the 2.45 ERA he started the night with spiked to 2.99. He allowed seven earned runs for the first time in his 63-start career.
Ross Ohlendorf pitched four pristine innings in relief of Strasburg, allowing no runs and just one hit, striking out four. Fernando Abad threw the final two innings of the game, and allowed one run, cementing the Marlins’ landslide victory.
Though the Nationals offense reached base 13 times on six hits and seven walks, the quick downturn of events seemed to take the life out of their bats, and they failed to gather any real momentum for the final eight innings of the game.
An ugly loss against the second-worst team in baseball was not the way the Nationals hoped to start this series, but all they can do now is be thankful that baseball’s relentless schedule gives them a chance to redeem themselves tomorrow.