In every game there are stories within stories. In this game, for example, Chris O’Grady also started off looking pretty good, getting out of the first inning having given up only a hit. In the game thread I asked whether or not O’Grady was for real. So far, so good.
Max Scherzer, meanwhile, started off the game looking every bit as comfortable at Marlins Park as he did when he almost threw a no-hitter against the Fish in June. Pouring in the strikes, he had an easy, breezy first inning.
If you left off at that point, you might think that Scherzer out-dueled a game O’Grady in a close one.
Another story quickly emerged, as the Nationals roughed up O’Grady in the second to the tune of six runs, three of which came off of the bat of none other than Scherzer himself, who hit his first major league home run, much to his own surprise.
The story had become O’Grady’s ineffectiveness and Scherzer’s first career home run.
Scherzer, jubilant over his first knock, celebrated exuberantly in the dugout, replete with high-fives for all. I found myself wondering if his teammates would relax on their follow-through as to not injure their ace pitcher.
Sure enough, Scherzer through a single warm-up pitch in the second, shook his head and gave the ax signal to Dusty Baker probably eight times. He was done for the day.
As it turns out, it wasn’t the rambunctious high-fives of his teammates that got him, but rather a bothersome neck spasm.
I got a neck spasm turning to watch his home run sail into the upper deck. https://t.co/5WIKUUPK2G— FishStripes (@fishstripes) August 2, 2017
Enter Matt Grace for the Nationals, who managed to keep the Fish off the board for the most part, for a couple of innings. O’Grady himself would last only an inning longer before being lifted for pinch-hitter AJ Ellis. There would end up being 10 relievers between the two ball clubs tonight.
Story change yet again!
The Marlins began to chip away in the third, when Miguel Rojas tripled to center and scored off of a Dee Gordon sacrifice. 6-1, Nats. In the fourth, a Tomas Telis sac-fly to center brought home Marcell Ozuna, and Rojas would come into play again later in the inning, singling home JT Realmuto. 6-3 Nats.
Ozuna would change the narrative entirely when he hit a big, three run shot off of Matt Albers that plated Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton, tying a game that had all but been given up earlier. Shame on us for not believing in the Marlins offense (or the fragility of the Nationals’ pen). Interestingly enough, none of the three recent pen acquisitions (Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, or Brandon Kinztler) would make an appearance in this one.
Derek Dietrich would come up big and make the come back complete by tripling and bringing home Realmuto, making it 7-6 Marlins.
The Marlins pen, in contrast with the Nationals, would provide six quality innings (Brian Ellington, Dustin McGowan, Drew Steckenrider, Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler, respectively). Ziegler would make it interesting in the ninth, giving up a couple of hits, but he eventually locked down the save and the Marlins victory, one of the better ones this season.
- New National (acquired from the Phillies) Howie Kendrick had himself a ballgame, going five for five and putting himself in position to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
- ICYMI, because you can’t have a Marlins game without some sort of unfolding injury apparently, Edinson Volquez will need TJ surgery. This will likely take him out until the last month of his Marlins contract, next season.
- Vance Worley, tomorrow’s starter, ended up with a plate appearance because Mattingly wanted to save Ichiro! and Tyler Moore for later. Worley didn’t fair as well as Scherzer did, grounding weakly to short.
The Marlins will go at it against the Nationals again tomorrow in the rubber match, Vance Worley vs. TBD, 7:10 eastern.
King Fish: Marcell Ozuna (.327)
Flounder: Matt Albers (-.436)
Play of the Game: Ozuna big fly (.305)