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Plenty of offense, plenty of frustration for fading Washington Nationals in another series loss

Another frustrating night at the ballpark for the Nationals…

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins
Victor Robles was caught stealing second after his leadoff single against Miami on Thursday night, one of many Washington Nationals’ base-runners who failed to score in a 7-5 loss to Miami.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

TFW: Your team winning percentage is creeping down toward your own league-leading on-base percentage.

The Miami Marlins were giving out plenty of bases Thursday night — 11 hits, including a three-man collision, three walks, and a pair of errors — and the Washington Nationals were even most obliging in accepting. But they couldn’t overcome what might have been Patrick Corbin’s worst start of the season, falling 7-5 to drop two out of three to the last-place Marlins.

The Nationals, atop the NL’s OBP rankings at .333 heading into Thursday’s game, have lost two of their last three and four of their last six — a .333 clip — with a season winning percentage of .429, fewer than 100 points higher.

Putting men on base all night, the Nationals even outperformed their season average with runners in scoring position, going 4-for-9 (.444), vs. a season .273, but still couldn’t overcome an early six-run barrage against Corbin that ended his night after three innings.

Corbin lacked command from the start, walking Miguel Rojas to start the game and Jesús Sánchez after Lewis Brinson reached on a force-out, Corbin fell behind Brian Anderson before giving up an RBI single and hung a knee-high slider that Jorge Alfaro took to center field for a three-run homer.

In the second, with one out and Bryan De La Cruz at second, Corbin hung a knee-high-inside slider to Rojas that the Marlins’ shortstop pulled to left field for a two-run shot.

“He gave up two home runs on two not-so-good sliders,” said Martinez. ”That was the big — we talked to him last time about using more fastballs.”

Corbin was disappointed in himself.

“To go three innings and not really give us any length, and kind of make our bullpen eat up those innings was definitely tough as well,” he said. “I don’t think I located like I said, very well tonight, and against any big league team, you’re going to pay for that.”

While the Nationals’ ability to get on base has never been in question this season, bringing them home has been another matter. While the team has improved its average with runners in scoring position to .259, fourth-best in baseball, The Nats’ problem again was hitting with the bases loaded, where they are still next to last, with a .188 average.

Even red-hot Lane Thomas could manage only a pop foul when given an opportunity to pinch hit for Corbin with the bases loaded and two out in the fourth, keeping the Marlins ahead 7-0.

“I told him to take his time, he’s just been hitting and I wanted him to hit in that situation,” said Martinez. “He’s been swinging the bat well.”

Despite putting the leadoff hitter on in two of the first three innings and loading the bases in the fourth, the Nationals could not get on the board until the fifth, when Juan Soto crushed a waist-high fastball from Miami starter Elieser Hernandez to center field.

The shot was clocked at an exit velocity of 114.5 miles per hour, the hardest-hit homer of Soto’s career.

“I know most of my homers are 110,” Soto joked afterward. “I feel sometimes I hit the ball harder than that, and every time I look up it’s 110. I look more when I hit a single or a double, because I think those are coming out harder.”

The Nationals finally found some sustained success with men on base in the ninth inning against Miami’s Richard Bleier. Josh Bell got his second hit of the night with Alcides Escobar and Soto aboard, scoring Escobar to make it 7-5. Yadiel Hernàndez grounded into what the Marlins hoped with be a game-ending 3-6-3 double play, but Hernàndez made it to first, freezing Rojas while Soto scored to make it 7-5.

At that point, Miami manager Don Mattingly got his closer, Dylan Floro, who ended the game on a somewhat adventurous fly ball to Jesús Sánchez.