Stephen Strasburg is on the disabled list, Max Scherzer left his start yesterday with neck discomfort and Gio Gonzalez’s wife is expecting any day now, so it’s understandable that the Washington Nationals are a little short-handed in their starting rotation.
As a result, A.J. Cole was called up to make a spot start while Erick Fedde had to be sent back down to AAA because there just simply aren’t enough roster spots.
Cole struggled with the long ball, giving up two homers and letting Dee Gordon wreak havoc both at the plate and on the basepaths.
Brian Goodwin and Howie Kendrick were the only Nats to reach base against Marlins starter Vance Worley, who tossed seven shutout innings of two-hit ball.
Enny Romero gave up two runs in the sixth but left the game before finishing the inning with an apparent back injury — his second time departing with an injury this week.
Nats fans got their first glimpse of Brandon Kintzler, the former Minnesota Twin who made the AL All-Star Team this season.
Kintzler was as good as advertised, picking up two strikeouts and two groundouts to set down all four hitters he faced.
The Nationals wouldn’t be able to muster anything against the Marlins’ pitching staff, however, and dropped their second straight game.
Nationals now 63-43.
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• A.J. Cole was recalled from AAA-Syracuse to make his second spot start for the Nationals this season with several starters’ availability up in the air. Cole hasn’t had much success at the major league level in his career, and that was evident Wednesday. He looked overmatched from the start.
• In the bottom of the first, Miami jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Dee Gordon drew a leadoff walk then scored from first when Giancarlo Stanton doubled to deep right center. Christian Yelich then drew a walk of his own to put runners on first and second with no outs, but Cole escaped the frame without allowing further damage.
• The Marlins put at least one runner in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings, but Cole managed to get into the fifth inning having only allowed one run. His success would end there, however, as a pair of two-run homers in the fifth ended his bid for a quality start. Both Yelich and Derek Dietrich left the yard, with Dietrich finding the upper deck in right field.
• A.J. Cole’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HR, 97 P, 58 S, 4/2 GO/FO
• Vance Worley got the start for Miami, entering the game with a 6.42 ERA in 13 appearances (five starts) this season. He had everything working against the club that cut him back in Spring Training, allowing just two hits in his first six innings of work.
• Cole’s pitch count and lack of command prompted Dusty Baker to pinch hit for him in the sixth. Baker trotted Enny Romero out to the mound in the bottom half of the inning. Romero gave up a leadoff walk to Miguel Rojas then balked two batters later to move Rojas to second. Miami pushed its lead up to 6-0 when Gordon singled to center, scoring Rojas easily.
Romero struck out Stanton for the second out of the inning, but was visited by trainers after grimacing during his delivery. He wouldn’t throw another pitch, leaving his second game in four appearances accompanied by a trainer after back spasms forced him to exit early Sunday.
Matt Albers came in and promptly gave up an RBI double to Yelich. He would retire Marcell Ozuna to end the inning, but the Marlins still held a 7-0 lead to start the seventh.
• The Nationals went down 1-2-3 in the seventh. With both singles he allowed erased by double plays, Worley was able to face the minimum through those seven frames before being lifted for a pinch hitter.
• Vance Worley’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 92 P, 54 S, 14/2 GO/FO
• Albers stayed in for the bottom of the seventh and retired the first two batters he faced. However, he was lifted in favor of the newly acquired Brandon Kintzler after allowing back-to-back singles. Kintzler faced Ichiro Suzuki and struck him out swinging to end the inning.
• Marlins manager Don Mattingly handed the ball to Odrisamer Despaigne for the top of the eighth, and he responded by setting the Nats down in order. Yes, the Nationals still had only sent the minimum to the plate.
• Kintzler came back out for the eighth and cruised through a 1-2-3 inning in impressive fashion. Gordon grounded out — the first time he recorded an out all evening — Stanton struck out swinging, and Yelich lost a 10-pitch battle by grounding out to second to end the inning.
• Despaigne stayed in for the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Wilmer Difo. However, he forced Jose Lobaton to ground into a double play to bring up Adrian Sanchez with the game on the line. Sanchez singled but it was too little too late as Goodwin was robbed of a home run by Stanton in right to end the game.