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Marlins blow early lead, swept in DC

Happy Independence Day! An 11:05 a.m. first pitch was unable to wake up Miami’s offense, as the Marlins remain winless in July.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Right-hander Anibal Sanchez struggled through the opening two innings on Thursday, but the Washington Nationals stormed back and silenced the Marlins’ bats the rest of the way to complete the sweep at Nationals Park, 5-2.

Miguel Rojas, in his 287th plate appearance, led off the contest by cracking his first homer of the season, sending a 2-2 splitter in the seats against the former Marlin Sánchez. In the second, Rojas brought home JT Riddle via a force out to extend the lead to 2-0.

However, Sánchez’s Fourth of July performance was solid overall. In six innings of work, he allowed just those two runs (one earned), three walks, striking out two hitters on 102 pitches.

Elieser Hernandez, pitching on the road for the first time since June 22, surrendered two solo home runs and an RBI single in 4 13 innings of work. Kurt Suzuki’s 10th homer of the year cut Miami’s lead to 2-1 and Anthony Rendon’s game-tying shot in the fourth was his 20th in 2019. In the home half of the fifth, Rendon’s second hit Thursday was a key one, knocking in Gerardo Parra.

Taking advantage of a rare starting opportunity, Parra also recorded a two-run double in the sixth off Adam Conley, stretching the Nationals lead to 5-2. According to Statcast, Conley’s average fastball velocity during this outing was 92.8 miles per hour, significantly below his 95.6 mph season average.

Jeff Brigham, in for Conley, recorded three strikeouts in two perfect innings out of the bullpen.

Miami left 13 men on base Thursday, including three in the top half of the eighth. Javy Guerra got Rojas to line out to shortstop Trea Turner with two outs to escape a bases-loaded threat.

Fernando Rodney, the reviled former Miami closer, retired Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper quickly. As the bases remained empty, Starlin Castro and Jorge Alfaro each laced two-out singles, bringing up Harold Ramírez to the plate, representing the tying run. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Ramírez grounded out.

Looking to put a win in the books in July, the Marlins will travel for a final time before reaching the All-Star break, opening a three-game weekend series against the Atlanta Braves on Friday. Miami has won just once in nine tries versus the NL East leaders. RHP Jordan Yamamoto will take the bump for his fifth career start and first against the Braves. Yamamoto’s previous outing was a letdown, coughing up four earned runs and four walks in four innings of work. Atlanta’s Julio Teheran will stare down Miami hitters in his 19th start of 2019. First pitch is scheduled for 7:20 p.m.

Marlins vs. Nationals box score (Baseball Theater)

Fish Picks answer key

  1. Marlins
  2. Over
  3. Over
  4. No
  5. Nationals