If anyone was looking to put a dent into the lofty expectations surrounding the Washington Nationals after their first series of the season, they’d be hard pressed to find any reason for those doubts as the Nats finished a sweep of the barely Quad-A Miami Marlins, beating the Fish 6-1 on getaway day on Thursday. The Nats didn’t so much as crush the competition, but in a very workmanlike manner dominated in every facet of the game in the three-game series.
The Nats are going to find stiffer competition this season in many corners, but they took care of business against a team that was gutted over the offseason of much of their Major League talent.
The Nats jumped all over Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc in the first inning. Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper both hit one-out singles and Ryan Zimmerman drove a ball to center. Werth scored easily with Harper right on his heels, and Harper collided with catcher Rob Brantly, but beat the throw to give the Nats a two-run lead. Harper appeared to hit his face on Brantly’s shin guard and took a moment to collect himself, but dusted himself off and left under his own power.
The Marlins finally broke their 19 inning scoreless streak to start the season, with center fielder Justin Ruggiano’s first home of the season, into the first row of bleachers above the out-of-town scoreboard in right center.
Washington tacked on a run in the third. Denard Span led off with a perfectly placed drag bunt and took second when LeBlanc foolishly tried to flip the ball with his glove while diving. The ball carried down the right field line, allowing Span to advance. He came home on Harper’s single to right to advance the lead to 3-1.
The Nats made it 6-1 in the seventh inning. With Wilson Ramos (single) and Denard Span (base on balls) aboard, Jayson Werth hit his first homer of the year to clear the bases and give the home team a comfortable advantage.
The Nats received their third straight quality start, this time Jordan Zimmermann doing the honors. The righty allowed eight hits and two walks in six inning, giving up just the solo home run and striking out one. It was far from a dominant performance, but Zimmermann (W, 1-0) was able to mitigate damage anytime he found himself in hot water.
Henry Rodriguez, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen all pitched hitless innings in relief.
The Nationals travel to Cincinnati to face the Reds Friday night at 7:10 pm. Dan Haren is scheduled to face Homer Bailey.