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Washington Nationals Series Preview: Fourth of July series against the Miami Marlins

In their traditional Independence Day home series, the Nationals square of against the Marlins in a four-game set...

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Rule 5.09(c)(4). Hands up anyone who had ever heard of this rule before Wednesday? If you put your hand up, you’re almost certainly lying.

In short, for the Washington Nationals, based on how the umpires called the play initially, they applied the rule correctly — the third base umpire called the runner who advanced from second to third base without tagging up out at third base as the third out, but not before the runner who ran home from third base without tagging up scored, so the run counted.

The run counted because the third base umpire didn’t believe that Ehire Adrianza made an obvious attempt to appeal that the runner who left third base early for a “fourth out” which would’ve negated the run. Then, because the Nationals had left the field — likely on the direction of the umpires — they couldn’t re-appeal the out at third base to negate the run.

So, had the third base umpire thought that Adrianza made an attempt to appeal an out for the runner at third who came home left without tagging up, then the run wouldn’t have counted.

After all of that, the run was crucial as the Pittsburgh Pirates won the game by one run. Of course. The Nationals still won the series and have won their past two, so, there’s that too.

Next for the Nationals, they welcome the Miami Marlins back to Nationals Park for a weekend wraparound series that ends with the annual 11:05 am first pitch on Independence Day.

The Marlins continue to fall back in the National League East, currently sitting at 34-40 entering this series, and in even better news for the Nats, they avoid arguably the best pitcher in the senior circuit, Sandy Alcantara, during this series.

Here’s the lowdown from Nationals Park ahead of the four-game series this holiday weekend...

The schedule

  • Game One: Friday, July 1st, 6:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Two: Saturday, July 2nd, 4:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Three: Sunday, July 3rd, 1:35 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Four: Monday, July 4th, 11:05 am EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out-of-market only), Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Probable Pitchers

  • Game One: Josiah Gray (6-4, 3.82 ERA) vs Trevor Rogers (3-6, 5.86 ERA)
  • Game Two: Jackson Tetreault (2-1, 4.24 ERA) vs Daniel Castano (0-1, 2.57 ERA)
  • Game Three: Erick Fedde (5-5, 4.40 ERA) vs Pablo López (5-4, 2.98 ERA)
  • Game Two: Patrick Corbin (4-10, 6.06 ERA) vs Braxton Garrett (1-3, 5.24 ERA)

Who’s hot?

Yadiel Hernández: Before this season, Hernández had actually developed a bit of a reputation for being consistent at the plate. This season though, he’s been a lot more streaky, and thankfully, he may be starting to hit another hot streak at the dish.

In his last nine games, the 34-year-old outfielder is slashing .370/.400/.630 with a home run, four doubles, seven RBIs, and two walks while striking out just twice in that stretch.

Hernández’s playing time has remained relatively consistent throughout the season, during both his highs and lows. So expect more of the same, even if his bat continues to catch fire.

Anthony Bass: Death, taxes, and a Marlins pitcher appearing in this section instead of a hitter, the three certainties in life. At least this time we’re mixing it up with a reliever instead of a starting pitcher.

Bass is fully deserving of his spot here though, becoming the Marlins’ clear best reliever in the month of June. In 12 appearances last month, Bass allowed just one run in 12 appearances, striking out nine and walking two in 13 innings of work, good for a stellar 0.69 ERA and 2.21 FIP.

Tanner Scott is still doing a fine job for the Marlins as their closer, but Bass has certainly at least worked himself into the discussion for high leverage spots in the later innings.

Who’s not?

Victor Robles: Yesterday, we published an article on what the future with the Nationals looks like for Robles, and to tell the truth, it’s exceptionally muddy for the former top prospect. That’s not helped by his recent cold stretch offensively.

With a hit in his second at-bat during Wednesday’s series finale against the Pirates, Robles snapped an 0-for-16 stretch at the plate, but the larger picture is much more concerning.

In his last 25 games, the outfielder is slashing just .175/.254/.228 with 14 strikeouts and four walks. The power has once again completely evaporated from Robles’s bat, and even with his defense in center field, he has once again been a liability on the field as a whole.

As the calendar turns to July if a team is willing to gamble on Robles and his upside, it could spell the end to his spell with the Nationals. But for that to happen, he’ll need to perform better than he has recently...

Pablo López: Ok, ok, we’ll actually note how a pitcher for the Marlins isn’t quite living up to expectations right now in López, who started the season so well but has scuffled of late.

In five June starts, the right-hander sported an underwhelming 5.34 ERA and 4.66 FIP across 28.2 innings, striking out 27 and walking nine. Were it not for an excellent seven-inning shutout effort over the Colorado Rockies, it could’ve been a much worse month for López.

To this point in his career, López has struggled somewhat against the Nationals, posting a 4.77 ERA in 11 starts with a 291/.366/.481 slash line against him, so he may not exactly be looking forward to facing them this week, as he’s set to take the ball on Sunday.

From the opposing dugout

Check out some of the top Marlins storylines from our friends at Fish Stripes...

One more thing to watch

In something of a 180 in recent games, the Nationals have actually been getting some really good performances from their starting pitching, a rarity for the team so far this season.

In their last ten games, the rotation has combined to post an impressive 2.15 ERA while striking out 52 batters and walking just 16 across 58.2 innings. Opposing hitters have had a mere .196/.253/.342 slash line against them in that time.

Perhaps the most noteworthy stat is the 58.2 innings in 10 games.

Remember when the fact that Nationals pitchers couldn’t make it through six innings was a punchline for the rotation early in the season? Well, six of the ten starts in this stretch have gone at least that far, and two of those that didn’t reach six were pitched by Paolo Espino, who is still stretching himself out as a starter after beginning the season in the bullpen.

Jackson Tetreault has pitched six and seven innings in his last two starts, Josiah Gray has done the same, heck, even Patrick Corbin dominated for eight innings in his last outing.

It’s helped make pitching decisions a lot easier for the team’s skipper during this stretch.

“Just pounding the strike zone, making pitches, getting ahead of hitters,” manager Dave Martinez said of his rotation on Wednesday. “They’ve been really good.

“And they’ve been working — I think [pitching coach] Jim [Hickey] and [bullpen coach] Ricky Bones, they don’t get enough credit for what they’ve done with our pitching staff. These guys are learning and they’re learning the importance of throwing strikes.”

The Marlins aren’t exactly a heavy-hitting offense, so they present a perfect chance for the Nationals’ rotation to continue their recent strong run of performances on the mount...

Series Preview Trivia

Last series’ trivia question: Before coming to the nation’s capital, Adam LaRoche made a name for himself in Pittsburgh with the Pirates. In the trade that sent him from Pittsburgh to the Atlanta Braves, can you name the future Nationals player that went the other way to the Pirates?

Answer: Hunter Strickland

Here’s our trivia question for this series with the Marlins, and we look back at a series between the two teams that kickstarted the Nats’ miraculous turnaround en route to the World Series.

In 2019, the Nationals also played a wrap-around series against the Marlins, that time it was over Memorial Day weekend. In the first game of that series, the Nationals pulled off a dramatic 12-10 comeback win, but can you remember who started that game for Washington?