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Washington Nationals drop sixth straight with 5-2 loss in opener with Miami Marlins

Make it six-straight losses for the Nationals, who came up short in the series opener with the Marlins...

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports


Josiah Gray could have started Sunday’s series finale with the Giants on regular rest, but Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters over the weekend he wanted the club’s 24-year-old starter to get extra time off before his fourth start of the 2022 campaign.

“We could have went with Josiah, but actually I want to give him another couple days,” he said.

“It’s going to be a long year for these guys,” he explained.

“None of them has ever pitched a lot of innings, so we’re making sure that these guys, whenever we can give them a day or two that they get it.”

Coming off back-to-back outings in which he allowed just one earned run in 10 13 innings, the fifth-year skipper said he has been impressed with the early returns from Gray, so he’s going to try to make sure he’s in for the long haul.

“We talked to him before that this might happen, so we scheduled his throwing a little bit differently, but he’s ready for it.”

With two extra days’ rest, Gray took the mound tonight, looked sharp, and worked efficiently early, completing three scoreless on 42 pitches, working around two hits and walk, with five Ks from the first 12 batters faced.

Things fell apart in the fourth, however, with a leadoff walk to Jesús Sánchez, a one-out hit by Garrett Cooper, and a no-doubter of a three-run home run to right by Joey Wendle that traveled 410 feet and put the Marlins up 3-0 on Gray and the Nationals.

Gray retired the Marlins in order in the fifth, after his teammates put a run up in the bottom of the fourth, and he picked up two Ks, for nine total from 22 batters.

In the sixth, the starter put two on, picked up his 10th K (from 26 batters faced), but then gave up a weak two-out liner toward short by Jacob Stallings with two on, and the fourth run of the game for the Fish scored when it went off Alcides Escobar’s glove on a leaping attempt, 4-1.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 10 ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 66 S, 4/2 GO/FO.

Walk Soto:

Juan Soto started the night with 16 walks versus 11 strikeouts on the year, after he was the only player in the majors with more walks than Ks in 2021, and he walked in back-to-back plate appearances to start tonight’s game, taking free passes from Sandy Alcantara in the first and fourth, and scoring the second time the Marlins’ starter put him on for the first run of the game for the Nationals.

Soto was 0 for 1 with a K before he doubled off left-handed reliever Richard Bleier on a 1-2 slider inside he lined out to left-center for his 4th two-base hit of 2022. Soto took third an at-bat later, and scored on a two-out single to center by Josh Bell, 5-2 in the 8th.

Yadiel Hernández In Left:

With a right-hander (Sandy Alcantara) on the mound for the Marlins, Yadiel Hernández, who has a .300/.333/.467 line against right-handed pitchers early this season (and is 2 for 3 in 3 PAs vs lefties so far in 2022) got the start in left field.

Hernández, 34, was also 11 for 33 so far this season, with a couple doubles and a home run in his first 10 games, nine of them starts over the club’s first 18 games.

“He can hit,” manager Davey Martinez said after Hernández’s 2 for 4, HR game in the series finale with the San Francisco Giants in D.C. on Sunday afternoon. “I’ve said that. He’s got a good swing.”

“Today, I liked the matchup with him today [against Giants’ righty Logan Webb],” Martinez added, “but [Hernández is] a good hitter, and he stayed on the ball ... and as you can see, when he stays on the ball, he can hit the ball to left field with power.”

Hernández started the night 0 for 3 against Alcantara in their respective careers, and hit a ground ball to the mound the first time up, then smoked one over the Marlins’ starter in an at-bat with two runners on in the fourth, driving in the first run of the game for the hosts in Nationals Park, after the visitors went up 3-0 in the top of the inning, 3-1.

Hernández finished the night 1 for 3 with an RBI and a strikeout...

Out(s) At Home:

Sending Josh Bell around from second on a Keibert Ruiz single to center field after he has dealt with knee and hamstring issues in the last week or so was a questionable decision by third base coach Gary DiSarcina, and the play at the plate wasn’t really close, with Bell out by a few steps on a strong throw in by Marlins’ center fielder Jesús Sánchez, but the third base coach had a clear (unless it was a feint) STOP sign up for Yadiel Hernández when the next batter, Maikel Franco, hit a 2-out single to right, but Hernández ran right on through it, with “it” being DiSarcina’s sign, and he too got thrown out, by Avisaíl García this time, for out No. 3 as a potential rally in the fourth ended rather abruptly. Still 3-1 Miami.

Bullpen Action:

Austin Voth finished off the top of the sixth inning after the fourth run of the game for the Marlins scored on Josiah Gray, 4-1.

Victor Arano gave up a walk and a double in the first two PAs in the seventh, but he got the next three outs without the runners scoring to keep it a three-run game.

Andres Machado got the eighth for the Nationals, and the right-hander gave up a leadoff single by Joey Wendle, who stole second, took third on a throwing error by Keibert Ruiz, and scored on an RBI groundout by Jacob Stallings, 5-1.

It was 5-2 in the Marlins’ favor when Erasmo Ramirez threw a scoreless top of the ninth, but the home team didn’t put any runs up in the bottom of the inning.

Nationals now 6-13