If the first of their many games without Ryan Zimmerman was an indication, the Washington Nationals might have some trouble getting back to their early season success.
The injury-plagued Nationals, however, will get another three games against the slumping Miami Marlins, a team they swept last week, beginning Monday night.
Washington announced Saturday night that Zimmerman is expected to miss four to six weeks after breaking his right thumb in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta that same day. The Nationals (7-5) are also missing hitters Denard Span (concussion), Wilson Ramos (hand), Scott Hairston (oblique) and Jeff Kobernus (hand).
"Hopefully we’ll get all this out of the way," Zimmerman said, "and everyone will be healthy the rest of the year."
Despite that growing list of injuries, Washington had four consecutive games with 10 or more hits before registering six in a 10-2 loss to the Braves on Sunday. The Nationals started 7-2 for the third consecutive season before the three-game sweep at Turner Field.
Washington will try to get back on track by adding to its recent success against the Marlins (5-8). The Nationals have won 12 of the last 14 meetings and 17 of 22 dating back to the start of last season.
They played a part in Miami’s current seven-game slide by taking all three matchups in the nation’s capital last week. Washington outscored its NL East rivals 22-8 and Miami enters this series with a 5.68 ERA during its losing streak, its longest since a season-high nine-game slide May 21-30.
They played some more competitive games this weekend in Philadelphia, getting outscored just 15-10, but lost by one run in each of the last two. Miami blew an early two-run lead in a 4-3 defeat Sunday and allowed Chase Utley to hit the winning solo homer in the eighth inning.
"Everyone has to take ownership for this trip," manager Mike Redmond said. "We’ve got to get better. There are areas we have to improve on, but we’re still battling. Nobody’s going to give up."
The Marlins had a 2.33 ERA while winning five of their first six, all at home. The start was the franchise’s best since it went 11-1 in 2009.
Miami was more competitive at home against Washington than on the road last season, going 4-5, and didn’t allow Monday’s starter for the Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 8.10 ERA), to get out of the second inning Wednesday.
The right-hander gave up five runs, seven hits and two walks in the shortest start of his career, but avoided the loss when his teammates rallied for a 10-7 win. Jayson Werth hit a grand slam in that game and played Sunday after a sore groin kept him out of the lineup in the previous contest.
Zimmermann was 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three matchups against the Marlins in 2013 and is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last two in Miami.
His counterpart from last week’s matchup, Brad Hand (0-0, 3.24), is once again slated to pitch for Miami. In his first start in place of the injured Jacob Turner, the left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Bryce Harper along with three other hits and two walks in 3 1-3 innings.
Hand is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in four all-time starts against Washington. His 7.64 ERA in six lifetime appearances versus the Nationals is easily his worst against any opponent.
Adam LaRoche is 3 for 5 with a home run against Hand.