Nationals gunning for third straight win over Marlins
After a team meeting on Wednesday, the Nationals (44-43) have posted back-to-back emotional victories over the Marlins (36-54). On Thursday, it was an historic comeback from a 9-0 deficit for a 14-12 win and Friday was a walk-off homer from pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.
“We’re all human, so having a walk-off win everyone’s in a little better mood coming to the ballpark the next day, have a little more giddy up,” outfielder Adam Eaton said.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez admitted he was looking for someone to end Friday’s game with one swing.
“Thought about pinch-hitting Michael (A. Taylor). He gets on, he can steal, but then what?” Martinez said. “So I said, ‘Hey, we need somebody who can hit a home run right now and Mark is the perfect guy.'”
Reynolds’ homer on a 3-1 pitch off Kyle Barraclough erased the bad taste of Washington’s not scoring with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth and rewarded the work of a bullpen that provided four scoreless innings.
The Marlins had all kinds of chances against Gio Gonzalez, who threw 114 pitches in five innings, but the Nationals turned three double plays and Gonzalez struck out Justin Bour and Garrett Cooper with the bases loaded in the fifth after walking in the tying run.
“I thought our offense did a pretty good job with Gio,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We just didn’t really capitalize.”
Scherzer (10-5, 2.16) is looking for his first win since June 5. A loser in four of his last five starts, he has allowed only 10 earned runs while the Nationals have been shut out three times.
In a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Monday night, Scherzer’s only mistake came on a bases-loaded double by friend and former Detroit rotation mate Rick Porcello.
“That’s where you’ve got to be better, no matter what,” Scherzer told mlb.com. “You’ve got to execute pitches against everybody. Just because it’s a pitcher doesn’t mean you can ever let up. Not saying I did, but the onus, the focus is on every single pitch. You’ve got to execute.”
Scherzer went six innings and struck out nine to become the 11th pitcher in MLB history with at least 1,000 strikeouts with two clubs. He leads the National League with 174 strikeouts.
He’s 8-3 with a 3.39 ERA versus the Marlins in his career.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 5.55) starts for the Marlins and has a 9.85 ERA in seven road starts this season.
Chen’s last two outings have been very good. He hass thrown 12 innings — six each against the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks — and allowed one earned and eight hits while striking out 10 and walking one. He allowed one unearned run in no-decision against the Rays his last time out.
“I think it was the life on my fastball,” Chen told mlb.com, via his interpreter, on what was working against Tampa Bay. “Tonight, sometimes I didn’t get my fastball to an ideal location, but I was still able to jam them, get them to get weak contact.”
Against Washington, Chen is 1-5 with a 4.15 ERA in nine career appearances.