July 14, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio (center) is greeted by teammates after scoring a run during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Hero Of The Game: Mark Buehrle (.281 WPA)
Goat Of The Game: Greg Dobbs (-0.94 WPA)
Play Of The Game: With a runner on second and one out in the fifth inning, John Buck hit a single to right-center field that allowed Emilio Bonifacio to score, giving the Marlins a 2-1 lead (.130 WPA).
Gio Gonzalez and Mark Buehrle were sought after by both the Marlins and the Washington Nationals this past offseason. The Nationals had the prospects Oakland wanted to trade for Gonzalez, and the Marlins had the money to sign Buehrle, who was a free agent. The two lefties who work quickly and have above average breaking balls were both dominant in the Marlins' 2-1 victory over the Nationals.
Miami scored what would turn out to be the winning run in the bottom of the fifth inning against Gonzalez. Emilio Bonifacio bunted for a base hit to lead off the inning, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Donovan Solano. Catcher John Buck was behind in the count 0-2 with Buehrle on deck, but hit the subsequent pitch well to right-center to give the Marlins a 2-1 advantage.
Both pitchers were efficient early, as Mark Buehrle worked around allowing hits in the first three innings, and Gio Gonzalez retired the first nine batters he faced, striking out five of them.
The Marlins played "small ball", doing all of the little things right, to take an early 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Jose Reyes led off the inning with a single, and Omar Infante bunted him to second. Carlos Lee, playing in his second game at Marlins Park as a Marlin, hit a ball well to right field for a single, giving him his first RBI as a Miami Marlin.
Washington was able to score their first and only run against Buehrle in the fifth. Ian Desmond reached on an infield single, and advanced to second on what was called a stolen base. Buehrle appeared to have Desmond picked off, and it seemed as if Desmond was running several feet outside of the baseline, however the umpire called him safe as Carlos Lee's throw to second hit him. Following a walk to Tyler Moore, Jesus Flores, the eight hitter, hit an RBI single to left that tied the game at one a piece.
Despite giving up another run in the fifth, Gio Gonzalez continued to pitch well and was lifted after six innings. Mark Buehrle was pinch hit for by Greg Dobbs in a crucial spot in the bottom of the seventh.
Emilio Bonifacio led off the inning with a walk, and immediately stole second base. Scott Cousins, pinch hitting for Solano, hit a ground ball to the right side to allow Bonifacio to advance to third with just one out. John Buck was hit by a pitch, and Dobbs was unable to bring in the run, as he grounded into a double play.
During the All-Star break, manager Ozzie Guillen said he would be using the "closer by committee" method to try and close out games. That strategy worked on Saturday night, as Randy Choate struck out Bryce Harper and Steve Cishek recorded the final two outs of the eighth. Cishek came back out for the ninth and gave up a hit but was able to close the game, earning his second save of the season.
Miami will look to take game three of the series on Sunday afternoon, as Ricky Nolasco takes on Washington's ace, Steven Strausburg.