Tonight's Top 5:
5. TAWH!! Chris Coghlan's thinking double off the bat on a line drive to right in the third, but the Amazing Willie Harris is in right tonight, and he makes a trademark diving catch at full extension to rob the '09 ROY of extra bases and save Nats' right-hander Craig Stammen from a RISP....And he does it again in the eighth, after Nats' reliever Brian Bruney gives up the go-ahead runs and gets lifted. Two runners on for Florida, DC lefty Sean Burnett against Marlins' catcher John Baker, who lines to left, TAWH!!! Diving catch, inning over.
4. Why Can't Nats' Pitchers Bunt? Is it a system-wide failure? Cause it seems wherever they come from, the Nationals' pitchers cannot bunt. Do they practice this? I know a good majority of the fans don't want to see the at bat wasted, but if it at least advances a runner it accomplishes something, unwise as it may be, but when you pop a bunt up as Stammen did after Ian Desmond's leadoff walk in the fifth, it's completely useless.
3. Stammen career-high in K's. Before giving up the game-tying HR and a two-out triple and getting lifted in the seventh, Nats' right-hander Craig Stammen had recorded a career-high in K's when he got Brett Carroll looking to end the Marlins' fifth. The Nationals' 26-year-old starter added two more strikeouts in the sixth to finish the night with 8 K's in 6.2 IP, and he allows 2 ER on 4 hits, one of them unfortunately the HR by Jorge Cantu which tied the game a half-inning after Ryan Zimmerman's solo shot to center had put Washington up 2-1 after six. And where'd Stammen's curve come from? Elbow - Bone Chips = Breaking Ball.
2. Swinging early and often, Nats allow Volstad off hook. Marlins' right-hander Chris Volstad, who held the Nationals to 1 run on 4 hits in a complete game win over the Nats when Washington was in Florida last week, needs just 87 pitches to get through 7.0 innings tonight, during which he gives up 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 ER including Ryan Zimmerman's HR. After the game I asked Nats' skipper Jim Riggleman if the Nationals swinging early in the count was part of the Nats' gameplan against the 23-year-old Marlins' right-hander:
Jim Riggleman: "I don't know. I don't think there was any particular thought other than get a good pitch and hit it. He's pitched two good ballgames against us now. The last time we faced him he was real good, tonight he was real good. He's got good stuff, he's not gonna walk people, he's right there, if he gives you a strike you gotta be ready to hit it. Certainly we'd like to get his pitch count up, but he wasn't really off the plate or anything, you could take pitches, but you're just going to get behind in the count."
1. BRUNEY!!!!! Nats' right-hander Brian Bruney takes over for Craig Stammen with a runner on third in the seventh, and walks the first batter he faces before striking out Brett Carroll to end the inning with the score tied at 2-2. The Nationals bring Bruney back out for the eighth and gives up a leadoff single, sac bunt (which is misplayed into a hit by Bruney) and an RBI single to put Florida ahead 3-2 with a runner on third. An intentional walk to Hanley Ramirez and a sac fly by Jorge Cantu make it 4-2 and Bruney issues a two-out walk to Dan Uggla before he's lifted for lefty Sean Burnett. 35 pitches total, 19 for strikes over 1.0 IP, in which he gives up 2 hits and allows 3 walks, 1 intentional. On the year, Bruney's now allowed 15 hits, 12 runs, 10 ER and 18 walks in 15.0 IP. Not good.
• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Watching.
Nationals now 15-14.
FULL GAME REPORT:
1 - Marlins' leadoff man Chris Coghlan takes the first pitch for a ball then singles up the middle on the second pitch he sees from Nats' right-hander Craig Stammen. Gaby Sanchez hits a sharp grounder to third with Coghlan running, but Ryan Zimmerman's throw beats Coghlan to second and Cristian Guzman's throw to first beats Sanchez, double play. Hanley Ramirez grounds softly to third, Zimmerman throws wide of first but Dunn gets it and makes the tag...Nyjer Morgan starts the Nats' first against Chris Volstad with a groundout to second. Cristian Guzman's first-pitch swinging and he singles to center with one down. Ryan Zimmerman grounds to short, Hanley Ramirez backhands and throws to second, but Guzman beats the throw. Two on for Adam Dunn. Dunn gets nothing to hit and walks. Bases loaded for Josh Willingham, who grounds to third, Jorge Cantu drops it and settles for the force at second, Guzman scores. 1-0 Nats. Pudge Rodriguez grounds out to short to end the first.
2 - Jorge Cantu grounds to Zim at third, one down. Dan Uggla takes strike three on a low fastball from Stammen. Ian Desmond gets to a grounder up the middle by John Baker then drops it, E6. One on. Cody Ross gets a 2-0 fastball from Stammen and lines it to left, Baker rounds third, Desmond misses Hammer's throw in from left. 1-1 game. Stammen gets Brett Carroll looking at a full-count fastball for the third out...Willie Harris K's swinging to start the Nats' second. Ian Desmond's first-pitch swinging and he singles to center. Craig Stammen tries to bunt Desmond over, but makes it easy for John Baker to turn a DP instead. 1-1 after two.
3 - Craig Stammen goes to a 3-1 count with Volstad, but gets the groundout to short to start the third. Chris Coghlan lines to right for extra bas---TAWH!! Willie Harris gets there and makes a diving catch to rob Coghlan. Two down. Stammen gets Gaby Sanchez looking to end the Marlins' third...Nyjer Morgan grounds to third, Cristian Guzman rolls the second out to Uggla at second and Ryan Zimmerman takes a called strike three to end the third.
4 - Zimmerman fields a grounder from Hanley Ramirez at his hip on a high hop and throws to first for the first out. Craig Stammen gets Jorge Cantu swinging with an 81mph bender. Dan Uggla grounds to third, Ryan ZImmerman's there and his throw ends the Marlins' fourth...Adam Dunn grounds to first on the first pitch he sees. Josh Willingham works the count full and K's looking. Pudge Rodriguez spins one out to second, and Uggla can't come up with it. One on for Willie Harris, who lines to center, but into Cody Ross' glove. 1-1 after four.
5 - John Baker tries to swing at an 82 mph two-strike curve, but comes up empty. Cody Ross grounds weakly back to the mound. Two down. Stammen gets Brett Carroll looking at an 0-2 fastball...Ian Desmond walks to start the fifth, but Stammen pops up the sac bunt attempt. Bunting FAIL. Nyjer Morgan lines to second, Uggla dives and gets it, then tosses to first to double up Desmond. 1-1 after five.
6 - Craig Stammen throws a 91 mph two-strike fastball by Volstad for his seventh K .Chris Coghlan grounds out to first, and Stammen's 8th K is the swinging variety as he gets Gaby Sanchez with a 90 mph heater...Cristian Guzman bunts back to the mound for the first out of the Nats' sixth. Ryan Zimmerma-- THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! HR to center and into the first row above the GEICO SIGN!!! 2-1 Nats. Dunn K's, Hammer grounds to short, 2-1 Nats after six.
7 - Hanley Ramirez shoots a one-hopper toward third, Zimmerman has it. Jorge Cantu battles, fouling off a few 1-2 pitches and then takes Stammen deeep to left center and GONE! 2-2 game. Dan Uggla grounds sharply to third, Zimmerman throws to first. John Baker flies to center and deeep, Morgan gets there, but it's off his glove, and Baker beats the throw in for a triple. Stammen's done. Brian Bruney on against Cody Ross. Two-out walk to put runners on first and third. Brett Carroll swings through a 2-2 pitch for the final out of the frame...Pudge Rodriguez lines out to right. One down. Willie Harris tries to bunt his way on, but Cantu makes a sweet play and throw. Ian Desmond works the count full and grounds out to second to end the seventh.
8 - Pinch hitter Bryan Petersen slices a line drive through short in his MLB debut. Chris Coghlan tries to get a bunt down, but Bruney misplays it into a single. Gaby Sanchez, lines to center, Petersen scores, Dunn cuts Morgan's throw in and gets Sanchez at second. One out, 3-2 Marlins. Hanley Ramirez gets the intentionals. First and third for Jorge Cantu. Cantu battles and flies to center, Coghlan scores, 4-2 Fish. Dan Uggla walks with two down, and that's all for Bruney. Sean Burnett on. John Baker flies to left for a---TAWH DOES IT AGAIN!! Diving and twisting to get under Baker's fly ball and make the grab!! THE AMAZING WILLIE HARRIS!!...Renyel Pinto on for Florida. Willy Taveras flies to right, one down. Nyjer Morgan grounds one off the pitcher, and beats the throw to first. Pinto out. The Guzzzz will face Clay Hensley. After a long AB, Guzman grounds out to first, Morgan in safe at second. Ryan Zimmerman up, and he grounds out to short. 4-2 Fish after eight.
9 - Tyler Walker on for the Nats in the ninth. Leadoff single to right by Cody Ross. Brett Carroll grounds to third, Zimmerman to Guzman to Dunn, double play!! Wes Helms hits for Hensley, or walks more accurately. Grounder to short from Coghlan, three down...Leo Nunez on for Marlins against Adam Dunn. Dunn takes a 2-2 pitch for a called strike three. Adam Kennedy lt;/a> lines to second to keep hope alive. Pudge Rodriguez chases a high two-strike fastball outside for a swinging K and the second out. Willie Harris up, Kennedy takes second. Harris grounds to short. Ballgame.