Giancarlo Stanton’s 39th home run of 2017 was his 19th in 51 games in Nationals Park in his career, and it gave the Miami Marlins a 2-0 lead in the third inning of the series finale in Washington, D.C. Fish starter Dan Straily held the Nats off the board through five innings, retiring 15 of the first 16 batters he faced before Adrian Sanchez doubled to start the sixth, took third on a sac bunt by Tanner Roark, and scored on a grounder to right by Brian Goodwin, 2-1.
Goodwin stole second, but Wilmer Difo sent a fly to center field for the second out of the Nationals’ sixth inning, bringing Bryce Harper to the plate.
Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly wanted to avoid facing Harper, who was 0 for 2 on the night, but 4 for 12 with a home run in the series to that point, and Ryan Zimmerman, who was 0 for 2 at the point, but coming off a 4 for 4, two home run game against the Marlins on Wednesday night.
Mattingly called for a pick attempt at second, hoping to get the third out there, but Straily missed the sign.
“We all missed it. It was a miscommunication,” Straily told reporters, as quoted by Sun-Sentinel writer Tim Healey.
“It was something I realized I thought it was a different sign the entire season, so I’m lucky that the other times I’ve done it I haven’t missed it.
“It’s frustrating, to miss a sign like that. Missed the sign and then missed the location on the pitch. Missed both.”
Straily threw a 90 mph, first-pitch fastball over the plate outside and Harper lined it to right, off the out-of-town scoreboard for an RBI double that tied things up at 2-2.
“We missed a sign with Harper,” Mattingly said. “We don’t want to pitch to Harper.
“We’re trying not to pitch to Zimmerman either, actually, we had a back pick on and instead of throwing the back pick we throw a pitch, and so that cost us.
“We had to go through Zimmerman there instead of Harp, but we ended up going after the wrong guy.”
Mattingly clarified that he would have pitched to Zimmerman, but he was trying to avoid both of them.
“I’m trying to pick [Goodwin] off before we have to pitch to either one of them, but what was supposed to happen was we were supposed to back pick that guy and if you don’t get it then we just walk Harper and go after Zimmerman.”
It was still tied at 2-2 when Junichi Tazawa took the mound for the Marlins in the Nats’ eighth and gave up a home run to right on a 1-0 fastball to Goodwin that ended up in the second deck above the right field bullpen, 3-2.
Mattingly said he hadn’t seen a replay of the pitch when he spoke to reporters, but it was safe to say Tazawa missed his spot.
“I’m not sure what he was trying to do there,” Mattingly said, “but obviously it ended up in a bad location.”
The home run was Goodwin’s 13th of 2017, and his second hit of the night, leaving the 26-year-old outfielder 6 for 16 with four doubles and a home run in the four-game set with the Marlins.
The 3-2 lead held up when another Nationals’ rookie, Andrew Stevenson made a game-ending catch on a liner to left by Dee Gordon with a runner on third in the ninth.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker talked after the third win in four games with the Fish about the contributions from his young players, and the growth his seen in Goodwin in their two years together in D.C.
“I’ve seen him make progress a lot,” Baker said of Goodwin, “and like I’ve said all along, he’s a quick learner. He takes instructions well, he has a good attitude about things, nothing seems to bother him. How many teams can lose two center fielders and then the next one steps up. Tonight was a game of our youth, and that’s a tribute to our minor league system. They’re thrust into the fire and they’re performing well.”
Adam Eaton went down early in the season. Michael A. Taylor, who’s working his way back at the moment, was injured as well. Goodwin’s stepped in and impressed in his time in center field.
Baker also talked about the way his young players have handled the pressure of being thrust into a tough situation by injuries to a number of the Nationals’ expected every day players and the help that they’ve received from the veterans on the roster.
“It helps to have guys like Jayson Werth around and [Daniel Murphy] and [Bryce Harper], who’s the same age as a lot of those guys, or younger,” Baker said.
“But his experience of being here and having [Ryan Zimmerman], [Anthony] Rendon, and all the veterans here, and the guys make them feel comfortable, whoever comes up here, and we’re not afraid to play them. That’s what they’re here for, and we’re very proud of them, because there’d be no way we’d be where we are with all the injuries that we’ve had without them.”