The one run the Washington Nationals did score last night came on a bases-loaded walk in the eighth, after Cesár Hernández reached on a two-out error and Juan Soto reached on a pop-up over the infield that the Miami Marlins’ second baseman Jazz Chisholm, Jr. couldn’t catch. Josh Bell walked to load the bases, and Nelson Cruz walked to force in the only run the home team scored in a 2-1 loss.
That run came against the Marlins’ bullpen, but the Nationals couldn’t generate much with Miami’s starter Pablo López on the mound.
López tossed six scoreless, which took him from a 0.52 ERA on the year down to 0.42 in 23 1⁄3 IP this season when he was done for the night, giving up three hits and a walk overall.
“López is good,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said when he spoke with reporters in his post game press conference. “He came in with a 0.52 ERA. He attacks the strike zone with all his pitches. Great changeup. But our bats got better throughout the game.”
Yadiel Hernández hit one to center with the bases loaded in the home-half of the eighth and the Nationals down by a run, and off the bat it looked like it had a chance, but it died on the way out, and fell in front of the track for out No. 3 in the bottom of the inning.
“Yadi couldn’t do more than what he did. He smoked that ball 107 MPH. So, sometime soon those balls will be home runs, but I did see the at-bats get better,” the manager reiterated.
As the game went along, and especially once they got into the bullpen, Martinez liked what he saw from his team at the plate.
In addition to Hernández’s hard-hit fly, Maikel Franco lined a potential game-tying, two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth, that hit the right field wall and bounced back quickly, leaving him with just a single.
“Like I said earlier, we faced a guy who came in here pitching really well, but the at-bats were better, as you saw, we took our walks, and we hit the ball hard. Franco’s ball, on a nice warm day that’s a home run as well, but we got to take those at-bats and build off of that, and come back tomorrow and start off early. We got another tough pitcher tomorrow in [Trevor] Rogers, but we got to be aggressive in the strike zone. I still believe we’re taking too many fastballs, I really do. We just got to be more aggressive in the strike zone, and be ready to hit early. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of it, but like I said, the last 12 at-bats, I was just in there going over it with [hitting coach] Darnell [Coles] for a minute, and the last 12 at-bats were good, now we got to do that throughout the game.”
They had their chances tonight.
“We had the bases loaded and Yadi came up smoked that ball. There’s not much else he can do about it,” Martinez explained, “... so let’s just go out tomorrow and try to go 1-0 tomorrow and play good, clean baseball.”
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE FINALE WITH THE FISH: