Flu-like symptoms knocked the Washington Nationals' 1-2 punch of Denard Span and Bryce Harper out of the lineup, forcing Jayson Werth to return to the leadoff role he thrived in last season while "The Shark" Roger Bernadina got a start in center and was penciled in to hit second tonight in Miami, Florida's Marlins Park. Ryan Zimmerman returned to the three-hole he's hit in for most of his career in the makeshift lineup. Davey Johnson was left with just two players on his bench, Chad Tracy and backup catcher Jhonatan Solano. Werth had a .309/.388/.450 line as the Nats' leadoff man in 2012, taking over at the top of the order after his return from a long DL stint spent rehabbing a broken wrist.
The chatter this winter was that Werth might move down in the order if his power returned, but the patient outfielder ended up at the top of the lineup again to start the season, batting second in each of his starts before tonight. Werth led off with a single to right, but was doubled up when Roger Bernadina hit into a 4-6-3 DP. Ryan Zimmerman had a .286/.353/.476 line batting third before tonight in his career, and walked for 340th time as a three-hole hitter in his nine years in the majors with two down in the first, but the inning ended when Adam LaRoche hit another grounder out to second that Donovan Solano handled for out no.3.
Dan Haren, in his third start as a National, needed 16 pitches to complete a scoreless first in which he allowed a one-out Juan Pierre single, but nothing else. Ian Desmond hit his seventh double of season into the right field corner in Marlins Park in the top of the second, taking a 2-2 slider to right to lead off the frame. Alex Sanabia got Tyler Moore to chase an 0-2 slider that fell out of zone outside for out no.1. Steve Lombardozzi's groundout to short moved Desmond up to third, but a two-out walk to Kurt Suzuki brought Haren up, and the pitcher's grounder to short was fielded by a lunging Placido Polanco, who threw to second for the force and out no.3. Still 0-0.
Haren's 21st pitch of the game was a 2-2 fastball to Justin Ruggiano that got the Fish outfielder looking for the first out of the Marlins' second. The Nats' starter got over to cover when Rob Brantly hit a sharp grounder to Gold Glove winning first baseman Adam LaRoche, who tossed to the covering pitcher, and Steve Lombardozzi threw Adeiny Hechavarria out to end the second scoreless inning by the 32-year-old Haren. 0-0 in Miami.
Jayson Werth (2 for 2) singled for the second time tonight to start the third. A swinging bunt by Roger Bernadina moved Werth up, but Ryan Zimmerman K'd chasing a 2-2 slider for out no.2. An eight-pitch, two-out walk to Adam LaRoche brought Ian Desmond to the plate with two on, but the red-hot double machine popped up to short left to end the top of the third with Werth stranded 90 feet from home. 58 pitches by Sanabia in three scoreless frames. An 0-2 splitter from Haren got Donovan Solano chasing on a check-swing strike three and the first out of the Marlins' third. A groundout to second by Sanabia and a groundout to first by Pierre made in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning by Haren, who was up to 40 pitches when he'd finished his third scoreless frame.
Tyler Moore's going to have to hit Alex Sanabia's slider, or lay off it. The Nats' 26-year-old outfielder K'd chasing it for the second time to start the fourth. Adeiny Hechavarria showed off his arm throwing Steve Lombardozzi out, Greg Dobbs scooped up a low throw from Placido Polanco and Alex Sanabia had four scoreless vs the Nationals on the board. Dan Haren popped Juan Pierre up with a 2-2 two-seamer for the first out of the Marlins' fourth. A grounder to third by Placido Polanco should have been out no.2, but Ryan Zimmerman committed error no.4 of 2013 when his throw was wide, pulling LaRoche off the bag, and a single to center by Greg Dobbs in the next at bat put runners on the corners with one. Justin Ruggiano's RBI single to left drove Polanco in to make it 1-0 Fish. One out later, Adeiny Hechavarria got hold of a high 1-1 splitter and hit it out to left and over the Clevelander sign for a three-run home blast that set off the Red Grooms' home run machine. Flying marlins and seagulls and things. 4-0 Fish. A 34-pitch inning left Haren at 74.
Alex Sanabia was at 82 pitches overall after a 1-2-3 5th that ended with Roger Bernadina being called out for running on the infield grass after the pitcher fielded the Shark's swinging bunt and bounced a throw to first off the runner's leg. 4-0 Fish after four and half. Sanabia lined a 2-0 fastball from Haren to right for a leadoff single in the Marlins' fifth. One out later, Juan Pierre singled to center. Placido Polanco lined to center to load the bases with one down for Greg Dobbs, who worked the count full and took the first free pass Haren's issued this year on the Nats' starters' 93rd and final pitch of the night. 5-0 Marlins. Craig Stammen's third pitch of the night was ripped through the left side and into left field by Justin Ruggiano for a two-run double that made it 7-0 Fish before the end of the fifth.
Adam LaRoche doubled with one down in the sixth and one out later Tyler Moore got hold of one of Alex Sanabia's aforementioned sliders and drove LaRoche in from third before scoring himself on a two-out, two-base knock by Steve Lombardozzi, 7-2 Marlins. Kurt Suzuki popped out to end the frame, but the Nats were on the board. Craig Stammen followed with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the sixth, after which the Nats were into the Marlin's pen. Right-hander A.J. Ramos took over on the hill for Miami, and threw a 1-2-3 seventh in which he set Chad Tracy, Werth and Bernadina down. Still 7-2 Marlins after six and a half.
Juan Pierre singled to start the Marlins' seventh and stole second and then, after a diving catch by Roger Bernadina robbed Polanco, third, to bring Greg Dobbs up with a runner on third. Dobbs' RBI single to left brought Pierre in and made it an 8-2 game after seven in Miami.
Ryan Zimmerman (1 for 3) singled to start the eighth against A.J. Ramos, but three outs later he was stranded at second as Marlins' right-hander completed his second scoreless frame. Ryan Mattheus threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth vs Miami. Fish lefty Mike Dunn surrendered a leadoff single by Steve Lombardozzi (2 for 4). Kurt Suzuki battled for six pitches before flying out to center, and Jhonatan Solano groundout out to his brother to start a 4-6-3 inning-ending DP.
Nationals lose, 8-2 to the Fish.
Nationals now 8-6.