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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats lose to Marlins ... again, 5-2 final in D.C.

Washington is now 0-5 against Miami this season. Yep. Sweep-avoider tomorrow afternoon...

Irvin’s Return To Rotation:

Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked earlier this week about the work Jake Irvin was doing behind the scenes, once the club made the decision to skip the 26-year-old rookie’s last turn in the rotation.

“We were just really honing in on his mechanics, where his head was going,” Martinez explained.

“We talked a lot about his head going straight to the direction he wants to throw the ball, so he’s been working diligently on trying to throw strike one and get his stuff over. Breaking balls. He wants to land his breaking balls for strikes a lot more, so he worked on some of that too, but he looked good.”

Irvin, of course, underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2021, so Martinez acknowledged some of the mechanical issues could still be a result of the time the 2018 4th Round pick missed while he rehabbed and recovered.

“It takes time, it takes time,” he said.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“After sitting out for a year and a half, your mechanics can get a little ... so we just want to hone in and make sure we keep him healthy. That’s the biggest thing, so we’re going to keep an eye on him, and we’re going to make sure he’s utilizing his body well, and getting to throw consistent strikes.”

In advance of Irvin’s return to the rotation on Saturday, Martinez talked about how it helped Irvin to take the time to focus on a few things the club wanted to work on in-between outings.

“I think [we] got a chance to work on some things with him, mechanically give him a little breather, not get him to think so much over the course of maybe just five days, but let him watch, let him see, let him watch videos, so hopefully he comes out Saturday, tomorrow, and the little reset will help him,” Martinez said.

“For me it’s just about pounding the strike zone,” the manager added, “... getting ahead of hitters and finishing hitters off.

“We talked a lot with him about what he needs to do to get better, so we’ll see how he does tomorrow, but he should be fresh and ready to go.”

“[Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey wanted to talk to him about ... getting his direction a lot better, using his legs a little bit better,” Martinez said on Saturday afternoon, “so hopefully that [translates] into today’s game and we can see that, but the biggest thing, I’ll talk to him before anything, is to pound the strike zone, throw strike one, and like I said, stay in the moment, just focus on the next pitch, don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Irvin struggled to throw strikes early in his return to the rotation, working around a walk in a scoreless, 25-pitch first, but a leadoff single (by Jesús Sánchez), a double (by Joey Wendle, on which Sánchez took third) and a sac fly (by Jonathan Davis) got the visiting Marlins a run and an early lead in the 2nd of 3 this weekend in D.C., 1-0.

A walk to Nick Fortes (on Irvin’s 45th overall pitch), put Marlins’ runners on the corners, and drew Hickey out to the mound for a quick chat, after which the Nationals’ starter got a backwards K (from Garrett Hampson) and a groundout to short (by Luis Arraez). Pitch total after two?: 49.

Irvin erased a Jorge Soler single with a 6-4-3 DP from Bryan De La Cruz, and he got another groundout for out No. 3 in a quick, 11-pitch third. He worked around an error on a potential double play grounder with one out in the fourth, completing another scoreless frame on 15 pitches.

A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth inning left the starter at 88 total, and Irvin was done for the day at that point, with Jordan Weems taking over on the mound in a 1-1 game in the sixth...

Jake Irvin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 88 P, 55 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

“After the first two innings, he threw the ball better, a lot better,” Martinez said after a 5-2 loss to the Marlins. “His direction was good. We talked about keeping his front hip closed a little bit, but he had that downward plane, and he threw the ball a lot better, so that was very encouraging. He finished with five [innings] and I think 86 or 87 pitches, something like that, maybe a little bit more, but I thought the last three innings, he settled down and threw the ball a lot better.”

Did the time off, and the way he started throwing strikes after the early struggles, lead to an improved outing for Irvin?

“We talked about it after the game,” Martinez said, “and he said he needed that little bit of a breather. So hopefully we get him on the right track. He needs to build off of the last three innings he pitched today, and we’ll see what goes on in five days from now.”


• Luis García hit a 2-2 slider low and in out to right field, where the Marlins’ outfielder Jesús Sánchez, shaded towards right-center, had to go a long way to track it down, allowing the Nationals’ second baseman to hustle around to third base for a one-out triple, his 2nd this season.

Lefty Braxton Garrett got out No. 2 when Jeimer Candelario lined out to second, however, and Joey Meneses grounded out to third to strand García. 0 for 2 w/ RISP.

• Given another RBI opportunity, after Candelario doubled off Garrett with one out in the home-half of the fourth, Meneses came through this time, going the other way with a 2-2 sinker outside and punching it to right for a game-tying RBI single, 1-1.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports


Jordan Weems tossed a scoreless sixth to keep it tied, 1-1, but Chad Kuhl struggled in the top of the seventh, giving up a leadoff walk and a single in the first two at-bats, then an intentional walk to load the bases with one out, before an unintentional free pass forced the go-ahead run in, 2-1 Marlins. And a wild pitch got past catcher Riley Adams, 3-1.

Thaddeus Ward retired the side in order in the eighth to keep it a two-run game.

Lane Thomas doubled off Marlins’ reliever Tanner Scott in the home-half of the eighth, and he took third base on a single by Luis García, before scoring on a double play grounder off Jeimer Candelario’s bat, 3-2 Fish.

Ward returned to the mound in the top of the ninth and had four straight batters reach base on him with a one-out walk, single, walk, and two-run single for the Marlins, 5-2.

BACK PAGE - Is Arraez Unstoppable?:

Luis Arraez’s 5 for 5 game in the series opener in D.C. on Friday left him 9 for 17 against the Nationals this season (.529/.556/.824) with two doubles and a home run, and 15 for 29 with four doubles overall against Washington in his five-year career. It’s not just against the Nats of course.

Overall on the year, the one-time Minnesota Twin, acquired by Miami in the Pabló Lopez trade over the winter, entered play on Saturday with a .390/.441/.484 line, 15 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 20 walks, and 15 Ks in 65 games and 272 plate appearances, giving him a combined .326/.384/.421 line in 454 career games in the majors.

His batting average and on-base percentage led all big league hitters going into play on Saturday.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“He barrels balls up,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said of the Marlins’ infielder after Arraez’s five-hit game on Friday. “You talk about using the whole field, he really uses the whole field.”

“He knows the strike zone really well,” Martinez added. “He’s a really good hitter, he really is, he doesn’t try to do too much up there, he just tries to barrel up the balls, and he’s got good bat-to-ball skills.”

Asked how they’d approach trying to get him out going forward, the sixth-year skipper said it’s not easy, obviously.

“There’s not much you can do,” Martinez acknowledged. “For me it’s just attacking the strike zone, and make him swing, hopefully he hits it at somebody.”

Arraez hit a grounder to first base the first time up against Nats’ starter Jake Irvin Saturday afternoon, hit one to shortstop in his second trip to the plate, then lined out to left field in plate appearance No. 3, before he singled as part of the Marlins’ two-run ninth inning, 1 for 4, leaving him with a .388 AVG on the year.