This was a game the Miami Marlins had to win. Not for first place in the division. Not for a World Series title but to get the proverbial monkey off their back.
The Last place Marlins hosted the Washington Nationals for the final game of a three-game home series.
Nationals placed Stephen Strasburg on the mound who is part of the Nationals solid rotation. Marlins sent 23-year-old Elieser Hernandez, a rookie from Venezuela who has been impressive since making his major-league debut on May 10.
It was Bryce Harper who ended his hitting funk letting it all out connecting on his NL leading 16th home run of the season in the sixth inning. He struck out eight times in the series before that.
Nationals completed the three-game sweep beating the Marlins 5-2. The monkey remained on their back losing to the Nationals for the 11th straight time.
Coincidently entering the game, Strasburg doesn’t like pitching in hot, humid weather such as what he found in Miami, yet he was undefeated in his past six starts against the Marlins. In fact, he pitched 18 consecutive scoreless innings against the Marlins. The roof was closed at Marlins Park while subtropical storm Alberto passed north of Florida.
“He’s got good stuff,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “we talked about it every day it been a different challenge.”
Strasburg has now pitched five shutout innings and contributed his first RBI of the season, but departed after throwing 103 pitches. He has thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings against the Marlins and improved his record against them to 16-7 in 29 starts.
Despite leading the MLB in-season injuries, the Nationals are seven games above .500 for the first time. They improved to 17-8 on the road, best in the NL, and continue their 10-game trip in Baltimore beginning Monday.
Miami begins a 10-game trip with a four-game series at San Diego. They are last in their division, and their 11-game slide is the longest to the Nationals in club history and longest versus any opponent since dropping 12 to Milwaukee from April 3, 1998-May 5, 1999.
“Our starting pitching has kept us in the game, giving us chances to win, we just haven’t been able to break through and get the runs we need,” Mattingly stated.
Marlins rank last in the majors in runs, home runs, slugging and OPS. Please, no more monkeys jumping on the bed.