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Base Hits Come Up Trumps for the Nationals


Led by the aggressive hustle of Bryce Harper, the Nationals handed loss 45 to the Marlins tonight.  Harper stretched a single into a double in his first at-bat on a Logan Morrison fielding error.  A few pitches later, while Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes were on the edge of the infield grass having a tête-a-tête with Josh Johnson, Harper noted that the ball was still in play, and hauled ass for third.   It was an outstanding example of the hustle that the Marlins would do well to emulate.

Jordan Zimmermann led the Nats’ defense, notching 6 strikeouts  while holding the Fish to 1 run, a seventh-inning John Buck RBI.  The Marlins struggled once again at the plate, especially with the street-corner curve that Zimmermann was using as his “out” pitch.  The Marlins were clearly outmatched at the plate,  logging seven hits to score one run. Going 1-6 with runners in scoring position, it’s clear that the All-star break didn’t cure our batting woes.

Tonight marked the return of Emilio Bonifacio to the lineup and the first of a 4-6 week absence of Giancarlo Stanton.

A bad throw to first from Jose Reyes broke up a third inning double play opportunity that would have prevented the subsequent Ryan Zimmerman 2-run home run.

Josh Johnson struggled to find the strike zone, although his down-and-left slider was biting well. He struck out six on the way to giving up 5 earned runs after 5 1/3 innings.

To summarize:  The Nationals consistently hit hard line drives for base hits. We don’t. Jordan Zimmermann painted the corners tonight, and J.J. didn’t.

So, a disappointing start of the second half.  On the heels of the slap in the face from the League in not having any Marlins at the All-star game, I’m hoping that the team finds a way to dig deep and find the moxie that illuminated May.

Tomorrow night, Mark Buehrle faces Gio Gonzalez. My prediction that tomorrow night will once again look like the league leader facing a sub-.500 team, but I’d be very happy to be proven wrong.

Correction:  In my series preview, I incorrectly called this a three-game series.  Carlos Zambrano faces Edwin Jackson on Monday.  That game represents our best chance for a win in the series.