Marlins can’t get to Tanner Roark in loss to Nationals
MIAMI (AP) — With a fastball that struggles to reach 90 mph, Miami Marlins left-hander Justin Nicolino must rely on pinpoint control. He didn’t have it Friday night.
Nicolino gave up homers to Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Taylor in a four-run second inning, and the Marlins lost to the Washington Nationals 4-1.
Nicolino (2-2) found his command after the second homer and retired 10 straight, but the damage had been done.
"That inning they were in attack mode," he said. "They were swinging. After that I settled in, but I put us in a hole early."
The Nationals arrived in Miami from New York at 4 a.m. but still managed to get off to a fast start. Zimmerman led off the second inning by sending an 88 mph fastball for his fifth homer. Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back doubles, and Taylor hit a two-run homer, his fourth.
Jayson Werth, who had two hits on his 37th birthday, said Nicolino was struggling with his command early.
"He likes to crowd guys, and I think he was missing over the plate," Werth said. "We took advantage and put a four spot on him, and that was basically the difference in the game. But he’s got good stuff."
Tanner Roark finally beat the team that kept beating him, pitching 6 2/3 innings for Washington.
Roark (3-3) came into the game 0-3 in three starts versus the Marlins this season with an ERA of 8.40. Against the rest of the majors he’s 2-0 in five starts with an ERA of 0.79.
Why the disparity? The Nationals suspect the Marlins spotted a giveaway in Roark’s delivery.
"We looked at video," he said. "I would do certain things on certain pitches, so I made an adjustment. The game within the game — it was a minor adjustment, and it worked."
Before the game, Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds might have noticed a tip-off by Roark. Bonds did such things when he played for Baker in San Francisco.
"Barry is the absolute best at spotting stuff," Baker said.
Marcell Ozuna hit his eighth home run for Miami, but Roark had no trouble with slumping slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who finished 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, dropping his average to .214. He has struck out 12 times in the past four games.
"He’s a big part of our club," manager Don Mattingly said. "He’s going to hit his way out of it."
Miami has totaled four runs during a three-game losing streak.
Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless eighth and hasn’t allowed a run in 15 innings this year. Jonathan Papelbon followed in the ninth for his 12th save. Shortstop Danny Espinosa robbed pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki of a hit with a man on to end the game.
Before the game, the Marlins activated RHP Edwin Jackson, who had been on the DL since April 19 with a strained right triceps.
Marlins: LHP Mike Dunn (forearm) is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Saturday at Marlins Park, and remains on schedule to return by early June.
RHP Jose Fernandez (5-2, 3.21) tries to improve to 21-1 at Marlins Park when he pitches Saturday for Miami against RHP Joe Ross (3-3, 2.63).
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