• Anibal Is Unbeatable: It's unavoidable. You can't ignore Miami Marlins' starter Anibal Sanchez's numbers against the Washington Nationals. The 28-year-old right-hander is (7-0) against the Marlins' divisional rivals from D.C., with 85 hits, 32 runs (26 ER), seven HR's and 46 walks (3.71 BB/9) allowed in 18 games, 18 starts and 111.2 IP in which he's recorded 95 K's (7.66 K/9) and posted a 2.10 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and .209 BAA. The Nats almost figured out a way to beat Sanchez when they faced him in the nation's capital back on April 12th, outlast him. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth hit solo home runs off the Marlins' right-hander and the Nationals and right-hander Stephen Strasburg took a 2-0 lead into the 9th, but Brad Lidge blew the save when he walked Hanley Ramirez to start the inning and gave up two-run home to Logan Morrison in the next at bat. The Nats rallied to win on a Desmond sac fly in extra innings, but they didn't beat Sanchez, who received a no-decision, as did Strasburg, who had been in line for the win.
Tonight it was Nationals' right-hander Edwin Jackson facing the Fish, and he retired the first two batters in order (after a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 first by Sanchez) before giving up a two-out double to left by Hanley Ramirez. Jackson walked Nat-killer Giancarlo Stanton in front of Logan Morrison, who lined to short right where Nats' second baseman Steve Lombardozzi made a leaping (run-saving) grab to end the first. 13-pitch, six-strike inning for E-Jax. Anibal Sanchez needed 18 pitches to get through the second with Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond working long at bats, but after Rick Ankiel grounded out to second the Marlins' starter had set the first six down...
• Not Perfect: E-Jax threw a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 second, retiring the Marlins in order. Nationals' catcher Carlos Maldonado walked with one out in the third, giving the Nats' their first runner against Anibal Sanchez, but the Fish pitcher popped up Edwin Jackson and got a groundout to second from Lombardozzi for his third scoreless and hitless frame. Sanchez throws 22 pitches, however, and was up to 52 total after three. E-Jax started the third at 27. He finished the inning ten pitches and three quick outs later, having set down seven-straight after the two-out walk to Giancarlo Stanton in the 1st. Bryce Harper grounded out to Jose Reyes' backhand for the first out of the fourth, Ryan Zimmerman grounded back to the mound for out no.2 and Adam LaRoche rolled out no.3 to Omar Infante at second to end the fourth scoreless for Sanchez. 12 of 13 batters set down, no hits allowed through four innings in Marlins Park.
**• No No-No: Hanley Ramirez worked a walk out of Edwin Jackson in the first at bat of the Marlins' fourth, but Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison flew out to center and left, respectively, for the first two outs of the inning. Ramirez stole second with two down, sliding in safely ahead of a throw from Carlos Maldonado, but a fly to left from Bryan Petersen stranded Ramirez there and ended E-Jax' fourth scoreless. The 18-pitch frame had the Nats' starter at 55 pitches after four. Ian Desmond broke up Anibal Sanchez's no-hit bid with a leadoff single to left in the first at bat of the fifth, lining a first-pitch change out to Chris Coghlan. Sanchez got Rick Ankiel swinging in the next at bat, but not until after Ian Desmond had stolen second and taken third on a throwing error by Fish catcher John Buck. With Corey Brown at the plate, Nats' manager Davey Johnson called for the squeeze and the 26-year-old Brown collected his first MLB RBI when he sent a perfect bunt toward first with Desmond charging home. 1-0 Nats after four and a half. Congrats, Corey.
• 9-Game Hit Streak: Edwin Jackson retired the 7-8-9 hitters in the Marlins' order on eight pitches in the bottom of the fifth, leaving the right-hander at 63 pitches total after five and 13 of 14 set down after the two-out walk to Giancarlo Stanton in the first. Nats' right fielder Bryce Harper tripled to center with two down in the top of the sixth, collecting his fourth triple of the year when Marlins' outfielder Bryan Petersen ran full-steam into the center field wall and dropped the ball. After the triple in his third at bat of the night, Harper was 14 for 34 with two triples, two home runs, five RBI's, 10 runs, five walks, three K's and one stolen base in his last nine game. He was stranded at third, however, when Anibal Sanchez got Ryan Zimmerman to ground weakly to short to end the Nats' sixth. Still 1-0 Nationals.
• Arm E?: Marlins' second baseman Omar Infante took a 93 mph first-pitch fastball to left and off the outfield wall for a one-out double and (a HR in most ballparks) in the bottom of the sixth, but he almost got doubled up at second on a Hanley Ramirez line drive to center that Rick Ankiel caught with Infante halfway to third. Ankiel made an off-balance throw in though and it got away from the Nationals' infielders and by the pitcher backing up, allowing Infante to take third when he should have been out. And the E:6 really hurt when the Nationals decided to pitch to Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins' slugger hit a two-out double to left to bring the runner in and tie it at 1-1 after six in Marlins Park. The 18-pitch inning had E-Jax up to 81 on the night.
• E:1: Ian Desmond singled with one down in the seventh, but the Marlins turned a slick 4-6-3 on a Rick Ankiel grounder to second to end a nine-pitch inning by Anibal Sanchez that had the Fish hurler at 101 pitches and done after 7.0 IP. Edwin Jackson gave up a one-out single to Marlins' outfielder Chris Coghlan, then threw away a pick attempt that allowed the runner to take third. In spite of a nice throw in from Nats' LF Corey Brown, Greg Dobbs' sac fly to left was deep enough to score the runner from third and give Miami a 2-1 lead. Jose Reyes singled in the next at bat to end E-Jax' night after 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K's, 94 pitches, 55 strikes, 5/9 GO/FO and Craig Stammen came on to get the final out of the inning, but the Marlins led 2-1 after seven.
• Rally? No: Nats' pinch hitter Xavier Nady singled off Marlins' lefty Randy Choate to start the eighth, lining a first-pitch sinker to right for the Nationals' fourth hit of the game. Carlos Maldonado got a sac bunt down to move Nady to second, and then the manager's matched wits with Davey Johnson replacing the left-handed Roger Bernadina with Danny Espinosa to force the Marlins' skipper, Ozzie Guillen to go to the pen for sidewinding right-hander Steve Cisek, who walked Espinosa on four pitches, 2 on, 1 out, and walked Steve Lombardozzi to load the bases for Bryce Harper. Harper K'd swinging on three pitches though, chasing an 0-2 heater up high after fouling off two sinking fastballs and Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a force at third to end the threat. 2-1 Marlins after seven and a half in Miami.
• Hanley! [spits!]™: After the Nationals' threatened, but failed to score in the top of the eighth, Marlins' 3B Hanley Ramirez hit a solo HR to left on the first pitch of the home-half of the inning, taking Craig Stammen deep for a 3-1 Fish lead. Giancarlo Stanton singled in the next at bat and Stammen was done. Sean Burnett came on to end the inning, but the Nationals trailed by two after eight and would have to try to win it against Marlins' closer Heath Bell. Adam LaRoche K'd looking at a 93 mph 2-2 heater. Ian Desmond chased a 96 mph 0-2 fastball outside. And debuting rookie Jhonathan Solano got down 0-2 and... lined to right for a two-out double! Solano doubles in his first MLB at bat. Xavier Nady lined out to right in the next AB, however, and the Marlins climbed to within a game and a half of the first place Nats.
• Miss The Game? The D.C. Faithful Were Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: ( - Doghouse's biting wit and cutting sarcasm):
Nationals now 29-20.