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Marlins 4, Nats 3: Scherzer struggles early, mates can’t rally

Aug 28, 2015, 9:55 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Max Scherzer taking the mound used to be a sure thing for the Nationals. These days, it’s anything but.

Scherzer’s August struggles continued when the right-hander served up a pair of early homers to the Marlins, putting his team in a hole. He did bounce back to finish his night on a high note, retiring 12 straight, but the Nationals were left trying to rally and get their wayward ace off the hook.

The Nats did chip away at Miami rookie Adam Conley, getting solo homers from Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos and then a sacrifice fly from Ryan Zimmerman. But they couldn’t push across the tying run against the Marlins bullpen, and so they were left stewing over a frustrating loss in the opener of a series they desperately need to take.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: The Nats had the makings of a big rally in the bottom of the seventh, when they loaded the bases with nobody out and knocked Conley out of the game. Rookie right-hander Kyle Barraclough entered to face Zimmerman, who just got under a pitch and sent a fly ball to deep center field, a sac fly that brought home one run and trimmed the deficit to 4-3. That’s where the deficit stayed, because Barraclough struck out Desmond on a breaking ball down and away, then after walking Danny Espinosa to load the bases again managed to deflect Ramos’ smoked comebacker right to teammate Dee Gordon, who tossed to first to end the inning.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Scherzer hasn’t been himself lately, we know that. We don’t know why, however. Did he burn out throwing so many innings earlier this summer? Is it just bad mechanics? Whatever the case, he has been giving up way more hard-hit balls recently than he did during the season’s first half, especially home runs. He gave up two more tonight, making it seven homers allowed in his last four starts alone. To his credit, Scherzer buckled down after that, eschewing his fastball for more offspeed stuff. He wound up retiring the last 12 batters he faced, at least keeping the Nationals in the game. Still, four runs in seven innings is not what this team is looking for from its ace right now.

KEY STAT: After committing 21 errors in his first 84 games this season, Desmond has been charged with only two in his last 38 games.

UP NEXT: Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 3.54) takes the mound for the second game of the series, at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. It’ll be right-hander Tom Koehler (8-12, 3.98) for the Marlins.

  1. Another_Sam - Aug 28, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    Two solo homers and a sac fly. ‘Nuff said.

  2. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:04 PM

    I am livid with this loss…. Absolutely livid.

    • conatsguy - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:14 PM

      Very depressing.. Can’t just win the series against the Marlins. We have to sweep. Rizzo has to address the injury record of this team in the off season. I think we all were waiting for the surge, but alast, we have a short handed squad.

      Have not given up. GYFNG tomorrow.

  3. philipd763 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    No surprise, Nats have always had difficulty beating the Marlins.

    • conatsguy - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      And the Rox

    • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:22 PM

      “Always”? Not really. 2014 — we were 13-6 against them. 2013 — 14-5. Before tonight in 2015 — 4-5.

      Do you ever do any research before making a comment like this? Isn’t it embarrassing to be factually incorrect? Or maybe you formed all of your opinions about the Nats back when they lost 100 games a season.

      • conatsguy - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:48 PM

        13-11 vs the Rox since 2012. That is a team we have to beat in our “window”.

        Thanks 222. Made me research it­čśÄ

      • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2015 at 11:00 PM

        No doubt we should be beating the Rox and the Fish. It’s just the snide tone of “well, the Nats stink, they could never beat the Fish anyway” that bugs me. Especially when it takes about 8 seconds to check the statement.

  4. nats106 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:15 PM

    Glad I sold my tickets for tonight’s game. It’s a sad state of affairs when my great seats are a loss leader for my parking pass. +2 bucks on the parking pass, -12 bucks on the 2 actual game tickets.

  5. nats106 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    In honor of tomorrow’s 80’s game. You could re-write it as will I make to the 80’s as in wins….

  6. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:24 PM

    Stras gave up an early home run the other night, but he buckled down sooner than Scherzer. You can’t be an ace and pitch like he has this month. I’d worry about him in a playoff game, not that we have much chance of playing in one this year.

  7. coop202 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    So much negativity… Someone on the last board was talking about the larger lady warming up to sing… I prefer dido – I will go down with this ship

    • Karl Kolchak - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      What, you expect sunshine and roses at this point?

    • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:56 PM

      Not really negativity, more like realism. I’m not angry. I’m approaching being resigned to our fate.

      • JayB - Aug 29, 2015 at 8:46 AM

        That is the problem with the team 2’s….they are not angry, they are not embarrassed by massive choke and or underperformance….they are just resigned to golf early again this year….that is the problem they just do not care about it……Millions of $s either way……Rizzo has build a great team with no drive or heart.

      • Section 222 - Aug 29, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        Yeah, if they just cared more they would play better. Sure. That explains everything.

      • JayB - Aug 29, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        Well if caring = preparation and focus or at least plays a large component then yes it does say a lot.

        Everyone except Harper has a dead look in their eyes….Harper looks pissed and focused…did you see him at the end of the game….did not move from the top step of the dugout after the last out…..saw Max and Werth and Zim all head down to the clubhouse all packed up……You know it is very likely that Zim has been making off season plans as has Werth and the rest of the millions $ players…..I would bet money that more than one of those guys has tee times set up in Mid October right now. They sure look like they are done….they do not want to be…that is not what I am saysing but Ian D. swinging at the ball way way outside tells me his head is not in the game and he is not prepared for the pitchers he is facing in that key situation.

      • JayB - Aug 29, 2015 at 1:33 PM

        Sorry to pick 2’s but I really hate the term Fate for this game or this team….not sure you mean to use it like I read it but……hell yes they could have changed their “fate”…they did not make any proactive moves….they did what they always do….MW is a major problem and Rizzo let him just keep doing what it is he does “manage by the numbers”…..nothing different nothing can be learned from reflection…..if that is what you mean by our fate then for the first time in like 10 years….I really have a problem with your post.

      • Section 222 - Aug 29, 2015 at 2:51 PM

        JayB, being “resigned to our fate” as a fan is not the same thinking it was Fate that brought us to this point. So yes, you took that wrong. You and I disagree on this idea that somehow the players didn’t want it enough, or didn’t focus enough, or are self-entitled millionaires who don’t care. But I don’t think it was Fate. I think it was poor performance and poor managing. On that I assume we agree.

        I don’t blame Rizzo. We don’t know what else he tried to do at the deadline, but we know he was willing to deal. He made a great move in getting Papelbon. Silly him for thinking Storen wouldn’t act like a spoiled cry baby. And I don’t blame him for not firing MW. Giving him a chance to bring the team back was the standup move. I’ll be pissed though if he doesn’t fire him during this offseason.

        And yes, I saw Bryce. Loved that. He knows the season is over for this team, and he’s pissed. I’m really looking forward to watching him play for the next three years after this one.

        Finally, I get the expression “tee times set up in October,” but you would actually bet money that they’ve really done that? That’s hilarious. If there were a way to settle that bet I’d bet you in a second. MLB players don’t have to make tee times 2 months in advance.

  8. Karl Kolchak - Aug 28, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    Turner made some nice plays in the field tonight, but at the plate he is proving those of use who were against his promotion correct. He’s not quite ready yet, and it simply was not worth the team costing itself a year of control to bring him up. Difo could just have easily played 2B and gone 0 for 3 in a loss if they needed him.

    Part of being a GM is to be realistic and not squander your assets unnecessarily, and Rizzo failed spectacularly on this one.

    • oldtownatsfan - Aug 29, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      Pretty sure that with the way service time works, we don’t lose a year of team control automatically just because we brought him up this season. It does potentially cause a problem next season if he clearly deserves to make the team out of spring training, since if we keep him in AAA for a couple weeks we could potentially delay him hitting his first year of service time until 2017.

      While I didn’t love the move to bring him up, considering that Desmond has actually been solid since the All-Star break so there’s no natural place to fit Turner in right now, I’m not sure I agree with the assessment that he’s not ready. He hasn’t hit yet, but made some sensational plays in the field yesterday. And he was raking at Syracuse, so I’m not sure how else to find out whether he’s ready or not than giving him a shot. We’ve been desperate for weeks now to get some sort of spark lit, and looking at Turner’s profile I think there was a reasonable case to be made that bringing him up was worth the risk.

      One thing that surprises me, unless I’ve missed something, is that we haven’t seen him try to bunt his way on yet.

    • Section 222 - Aug 29, 2015 at 9:46 AM

      Karl, you do realize that this callup did not necessarily cost the team a year of control, right? I and others have explained that many times, and you can read about how service time works here:
      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/contract-details/service-time-super-two/

      So it’s not a spectacular fail. It just isn’t. I will bet you anything that the Nats will still control Turner in 2022 (assuming he’s not traded, or injured, or retired or whatever). We’ll know by next fall. Rizzo isn’t stupid.

    • ballgrindM - Aug 29, 2015 at 11:25 AM

      As others have pointed out, his promotion hasn’t cost the team anything. Second of all, you saying “he’s not quite ready yet” is completely ridiculous. He’s had 8 at bats, 5 of which were in pinch hitting situations that he was not used to or comfortable in. That is such an asininely low sample size to pronounce a player not ready in. He started 0-11 in AAA before tearing up the international league hitting .322, his slow start didn’t mean he wasn’t ready for AAA then and it doesn’t mean he can’t handle the MLB now, it just exemplifies the adjustment period every player goes through upon a promotion

  9. conatsguy - Aug 28, 2015 at 11:03 PM

    Not giving up on this team. There is a very real scenario out there that we win the NL east in the last week of the season. Maybe that is what it takes to get into the playoffs on a roll. The window is closing… We have had some sh*t breaks this year, it has to start now. When the chocolate baths start again, we will be going in the right direction. That’s my dream in a nutshell.

  10. conatsguy - Aug 28, 2015 at 11:25 PM

    Mets loose in 10­čśÄ

    Just sayin..

    • natsguy - Aug 28, 2015 at 11:33 PM

      But when the Mets lose so do the Nats.

  11. wmlsays - Aug 28, 2015 at 11:43 PM

    So this is what $210 million can buy? Does Max even have a winning record? Nice guy, but geez. He’s the only Nats starter not to win in August. He has cost the Nats at least three games with his pitching in August alone (granted, the Nats can’t always score, but still). So I guess Rizzo’s great plans have turned into massive failures, at least for the year. There is always next year, when the under performing guys are a year older.

    • mauimo22 - Aug 29, 2015 at 1:37 AM

      Score five runs and we win!

  12. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2015 at 11:47 PM

    MMN is 29. They have 34 to play.

  13. ccallahan15 - Aug 29, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Sad when the key stat of the game is ” Desmond didn’t make an error (again)”. Yes, well, there is that bright news.

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