The Nationals lost 12-1 to the Marlins Sunday afternoon. It was a struggle for left-hander Gio Gonzalez as he gave up eight runs. But his offense could not get going against the Marlins José Ureña and the defense behind Gonzalez struggled after the first inning.
Adam Eaton made a nice play on a fly ball that Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson hit down the right field foul line.
But Bryce Harper, who went 0-for-3 at the plate, had some trouble in the outfield on a couple of different plays: one on Starlin Castro’s bloop single that scored the Marlins’ first run, and later bobbled a ball. Austin Dean’s two-run double in the third went over Harper’s head and all the way to the wall in right-center field.
“I think just got to go out there and play ball,” Harper said of the defense. “Hopefully, make those plays. Had a ball in center that I could possibly could’ve made. I don’t know. Just got to grind. Just got to battle. Play good baseball, play sound baseball and be the team that we need to be.”
Manager Davey Martinez acknowledged it was a tough day for Gonzalez, and for the Nats offense, which produced only two hits. He spoke about Harper’s day on defense.
“Just a rough day out there for him. One ball took off on him, he dropped one ball. But that was it. He’s been playing really well. Like I said, we have to rebound and come back Tuesday.”
Harper reflected on the week that was for the Nats, starting with walk-off losses to the Cubs and then the Cardinals, followed by a series loss in St. Louis and two losses this weekend to the Marlins.
“I think just going out there and try and win ballgames. That’s what we got to do,” Harper said. “Today we just didn’t make that happen. Ureña threw the ball pretty well. And you guys saw the rest, I guess.”
The Nationals had won 14 straight games against the Marlins from 2017 until July 8, 2018. Since then, they have lost four of the last seven games in the series. Their last series win was Aug. 5 against the Reds at Nats Park.
Harper said that no one stood up after this one to give some fiery speech. He said the clubhouse knows from the scoreboard what happened in Sunday’s game.
“I think when you get beat 12 to 1, or whatever it was, I think you kind of assume what happened,” Harper said. “Take it how you want and try to go about it the right way tomorrow, enjoy your off day and get ready for a big series against Philly.”
Last year on Aug. 19, the Nats lost to the Padres on the road, 3-1, but still were 73-48 and led the National League East by 14 games. This season they are 62-63 and in third place in the division, trailing the Braves and the Phillies by seven games. The Braves were just swept in four games at home by the Rockies. The Phillies play the Little League Classic Sunday night against the Mets.
We have heard Ryan Zimmerman say that maybe this season will have the Nats fight until the end to find their way to the postseason instead of enjoying a big lead by this time of the campaign. Harper repeated that scenario Sunday after the loss to the Marlins as one way the Nats could turn this season around.
”...I felt like we always been ahead at this time super far. I think, for me and everybody in this clubhouse, I think we should be excited where we are at because if we rattle off and do what we need to do and gets us hot to go right into the post season ...
“The next couple weeks are going to be tough, but I think me, personally, and a lot of guys in this clubhouse are looking forward to it. It’s definitely going to be tough, uphill battle. But got to come in and do our job and win ballgames.”
The first-place Phillies arrive Tuesday to begin a series that will go a long way in determining whether the Nats have the toughness to survive in a division race that’s becoming more and more difficult to turn positive with the way they are playing baseball right now.