The Miami Marlins had a chance in the first game of a four-game set against the Washington Nationals. The Fish held a 2-0 lead early in the game against a traditionally tough opponent for Miami in south Florida native Gio Gonzalez, but it was not enough to eventually hand them a win. A combination of failing to add onto their early lead in one crucial situation and the bullpen's mistakes led to an eventual 5-3 loss.
The Fish took the lead early on in the game despite a difficult outing for Tom Koehler. He went the first five innings playing on the edge by allowing too many baserunners and needing the defense to bail him out. He allowed a single and two walks in the first inning and needed help by catcher J.T. Realmuto to snag extra outs on the bases, with Realmuto gunning down Ben Revere in a steal attempt. In the second inning, a two-out walk to Jose Lobaton led to a double by Gio Gonzalez, and the Fish got a good relay throw from Adeiny Hechavarria and tag-out by Realmuto to prevent another run.
Overall, Koehler allowed no runs in those first five innings, but he did not do it easily. He recorded four strikeouts versus five walks and five hits, but thanks to defensive work and good timing, no one got through.. Meanwhile, the Fish struck out plenty against Gonzalez but benefited from two defensive snafus up the middle in the fifth inning. Marcell Ozuna got aboard with a leadoff walk and Daniel Murphy committed an error in a decently-makeable play at second base on a Chris Johnson grounder. One batter later, Miguel Rojas hit a deep infield single into the grass on which Murphy committed a throwing error to first base, yielding two runs in the process to put Miami up.
The sixth inning, however, began Miami's issues. In the top of the frame, the Fish led off with three straight singles by Giancarlo Stanton, Ozuna, and Johnson, and had the bases loaded with no one out. After a strikeout by Adeiny Hechavarria, the Fish brought in Derek Dietrich to face right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit, and the Nationals countered with lefty Oliver Perez. Perez induced the perfect grounder to get out of the inning via double play. That grounder was worth 0.1 wins in that situation.
In the bottom of the frame, Koehler got ahead with two quick outs but allowed a base hit to Lobaton. Bryan Morris came in to face the lefty pinch-hitter Stephen Drew, an unfortunate circumstance because Miami has no current left-handed relievers on their roster. Morris then gave up a home run to Drew to tie the game up, costing the Fish another 0.3 wins in the process.
The pen wasn't done messing up, however. Kyle Barraclough led off the seventh inning with a walk to Anthony Rendon and a home run to Bryce Harper to put Washington up 4-2. Barraclough has given up two homers in his big-league career, and both were against Harper. In the eighth inning, Chris Heisey delivered a pinch-hit home run against Dustin McGowan to re-adjust the deficit to two runs after Miami scored one run in the top of the inning.
Jonathan Papelbon closed out two of the three remaining outs in the ninth despite a Dietrich hit-by-pitch and Miami suffered an unfortunate loss. The evening was fraught by offensive lost opportunities, a poor-process start by Koehler with good run results, and a bad performance by the pen.
Hero of the Game: Tom Koehler (+0.312 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Bryan Morris (-0.292 WPA)
Play of the Game: Stephen Drew hits a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Jose Lobaton scores. (-0.309 WPA)