The bats came through for the Nationals May 15, ending a three-game losing streak and avoiding a sweep by the Florida Marlins, as Washington won 8-4.
The Nationals scored more runs in the first inning than they had in the first two games of this series combined. After two singles by center fielder Roger Bernadina and right fielder Jayson Werth, a single by Laynce Nix put the Nationals up 1-0 in the inning.
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez followed that up by hitting a single to shallow left field that split the outfielders and shortstop to score two and put the Nats up 3-0. Third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. then hit into a fielder’s choice to score the game’s fourth run.
Starting pitcher Jason Marquis capped off the rally and helped himself out by hitting a double into the left field corner to score two runs, though he was called out trying to leg out a triple.
Marquis is having a great year offensively, which can be an asset for the team. After two hits in three at bats on Sunday, Marquis raised his average to .333 for the season. While most pitchers in the NL are ordered to bunt in the majority of their plate appearances, Nats’ manager Jim Riggleman feels confident enough in Marquis’ ability to let him swing away.
Marquis has always been an above average hitter, as his career average is .202, an impressive number for a pitcher. While he was limited last year offensively due to injuries, Riggleman said Marquis is back to his old self.
“That’s a part of his game that has always been there, and last year he just couldn’t do that with no consistent work and not going deep into ballgames,” Riggleman said after the game. “This is the way he’s swung the bat with other clubs he’s been with.”
The Marlins got two back in the top of the second inning with a sacrifice fly from right fielder Mike Stanton, after a throwing error by Hairston and a double allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach base. An RBI single by backup catcher Brett Hayes made it a 6-2 ballgame.
Rodriguez got another RBI when he hit a double off of reliever Brian Sanches to left center field in the bottom of the fifth to knock in Werth and make it a 7-2 lead.
Stanton continued his dominance over Nats’ pitching as he led off the top of the seventh inning with a double, scoring when third baseman Greg Dobbs hit a double as well. Marlins’ center fielder Chris Coghlin hit a single later in the inning to make it a 7-4 game.
Pudge continued his strong game with a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth. Alex Cora moved him to second by working a walk. Professional pinch hitter Matt Stairs then hit into a fielder’s choice at second base to move Rodriguez to third. The next batter, Roger Bernadina, hit an infield single to allow Rodriguez to score.
This kind of performance by the offense is exactly what the team has been lacking the whole season.
“If we got on track a little bit earlier, maybe we would have won a few more games because we’ve pitched very well,” Riggleman said.
This year, the team’s main problem seems to be the complete opposite from last year’s club.
“Last year we weren’t pitching well, but we were scoring runs OK,” he said.
However, based on the performance from the offense on Sunday, it seems like the Nats might be turning things around.