UNLIKELY HERO RUNS RECORD TO 3-0 IN ANOTHER STRONG LATE SEASON START
The Washington Nationals offensive attack has been near the bottom of the National League all season long, but there’s one team that’s been consistently worse: the Miami Marlins. Tuesday night, Ross Ohlendorf and four other Nats pitchers combined to allow just seen base runners, leading the Nats to a 2-1 win over the Marlins before 24,616 at Nationals Park.
The win is the Nats sixth in their last seven games and, coupled with Cincinnati’s 6-1 loss to the Cardinals, cuts the deficit in the Wild Card standings to seven games with just 31 games remaining in the regular season.
Ohlendorf (W. 3-0, 2.49) retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up a single to Marlins rookie outfielder Christina Yelich to lead off the fourth inning. The journeyman right-hander with the old-timey wind-up then allowed just one more hit and walk up to the leadoff batter in the sixth — Yelich again.
This time, however, after seeing four straight “changeups” Yelich finally got a hold of one he liked and ripped the offering into the Nats bullpen, where Tanner Roark was already warming up. Manager Davey Johnson decided the five terrific innings, on just 78 pitches, was all he needed to see out of Ohlendorf and he turned things over to the bullpen.
“He just kind of ran out of gas, like he did before [in the start that precipitated his trip to the D.L.],” Johnson said. “But you never know with him because he puts a lot on it. Other times, it’s like he’s changing up off his fastball. But when he takes 10 miles off, he gets to scaring me a little bit.”
Roark started off shaky. After getting Donovan Solano to fly out, he then walked the next two batters he faced. But the rookie reliever regained focus to strike out Ed Lucas and Justin Ruggiano to leave the runners stranded.
From there, the Nats cruised. Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano all pitched scoreless innings, with Soriano allowing the only base runner, what turned out to be a harmless two-out single before coaxing one more groundout to earn his 34th save of the season.
The Nats got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the first inning off Nathan Eovaldi (L, 2-5, 3.76). Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper both connected for one-out singles. Jayson Werth grounded out to third, but Zimmerman scored on the play. Ian Desmond followed with a single that plated Harper from second base, and that’s all the run support that Ohlendorf and the four relievers needed.
THE GOOD: Ohlendorf continues to amaze. After a shaky first start coming off the disabled list last week (4 ER in 4.1 IP) he got right back to doing what he’s done all season for the Nats. He has a career 4.87 ERA in 120 MLB games (and that includes his stellar 2.49 in 12 games this season), so who knows if it will continue, but the guy has resurrected his career and someone will give him a shot in a rotation next spring.
Honorable mention to Ian Desmond, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche both had two hits apiece.
Also, Denard Span went 1-for-4, which means he extended his season-high hitting streak to 10 games.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth has been the Nats offensive MVP this season, but even MVPs take the collar. 0-for-4 in this one.
THE UGLY: Wilson Ramos went 0-for-4 and stranded four in the process. Desmond and LaRoche were on base all night ahead of the Buffalo but it just wasn’t his night.
THE STATS: 9 hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. 1-for-8 with RISP, 8 LOB. No errors or double plays.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:05 pm against the Marlins. Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 3.00) hosts Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.86).
NATS NOTES: Before the game, the Nats recalled RHP Ryan Mattheus from AAA-Syracuse and returned LHP Xavier Cedeno to the Chiefs.