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Washington Nationals fall to Miami Marlins, 2-1, but Aníbal Sánchez solid in West Palm Beach

Aníbal Sánchez tossed four scoreless, but the Nationals gave up two runs in the pen and didn’t come up with a whole lot of offense against the Marlins.

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Davey Martinez told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Steve Phillips earlier this week that he loves Aníbal Sánchez and has for years, long before the 35-year-old signed with the Washington Nationals, taking a 2-year/$19M free agent deal this winter.

“He might not have his best stuff, but he’s going to figure out a way to get you out,” he said, “and that’s what I love about him.”

“He competes, he knows himself better than anybody, and he’s got 5-6 different pitches he’s going to throw at you to get you out.”

Sánchez got three ground ball outs from the first three batters he faced in a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the first, but a grounder up the middle of the infield off of Starlin Castro’s bat got through for a leadoff single in the top of the second.

Sánchez jumped on a bunt attempt by Lewis Brinson, firing a strike to first to get an out that advanced the Marlins’ first runner, then he popped Miguel Rojas up for out No. 2, and hustled over to first on a ground ball to the right side and received a throw from Brian Dozier for the third out of the frame.

Bryan Holaday hit a one-out double to right-center field and over the outfield wall on a hop on a low fastball from Sánchez in the top of the third inning, but the right-hander dropped a 3-2 change in under Curtis Granderson’s bat for out No. 2 and his first strikeout of the night, then fielded a swinging bunt from Martin Prado and threw to first to end a 19-pitch frame to finish three scoreless at 34 pitches.

Brinson lined a two-out single to left field off Sánchez in the fourth, on a fastball up and out over the plate, and Miguel Rojas hit a check-swing single over second base on a 75 mph 1-1 breaking ball down in the zone for the Marlins’ fourth hit of the game, but the Nats’ starter’s 55th pitch of the night, an 86 mph, 2-1 fastball, got a weak ground ball to third from Garrett Cooper for the final out of the inning.

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 55 P, 10/0 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action: Aaron Barrett got the fifth for the Nationals, once Sánchez was done for the night, and the right-hander gave up a 2-out bomb on a 2-0 pitch to Curtis Granderson that ended up on the berm behind the right field wall in the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, 1-0.

Erick Fedde gave up back-to-back singles to the first two batters he faced in the top of the sixth, and one out later left a slider up in the zone that Miguel Rojas lined to center field for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.

Fedde worked around a two-out double and completed a scoreless seventh inning at 40 pitches.

Perfect: Miami’s pitchers, Pablo Lopez and Wei-Yin Chen, held the Nationals hitless through seven innings tonight, and didn’t give up much that was really well-struck either, outside of Carter Kieboom’s fly to deep left in the seventh, which fell into Gabriel Guerrero’s glove on the track for the 19th of 21-straight outs.

Back to the bullpen?: Kyle McGowin retired the Marlins in order in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth in which he showed off a nasty curveball.

No Longer Perfect: Pedro Severino took Wei-Yin Chen’s 43rd pitch of the night out to right for a one-out single and the Nationals’ first hit 23 batters into the game. Huzzah!

Moar Bullpen: Scott Copeland kept it a 2-0 game with a scoreless top of the ninth inning, and Carter Kieboom made it a one-run game with a high fly to left off lefty Adam Conley that cleared the wall for a solo shot that broke up the combined shutout, 2-1.