Davey Johnson sat down for his postgame press conference and flashed a smile.
“Well, there’s not much to say about that one,” he said.
Not much positive stuff, anyway.
The Nationals lost to the Marlins 8-0 today, putting the wraps on a 8-3 homestand. All in all, the Nats should be pretty pleased with how they played over the last week and a half, but they did very little today against Ricky Nolasco, who has thrown back-to-back shutouts against them.
“He can get nasty when he starts throwing that changeup and that curveball and hitting the corners with his fastball,” Johnson said. “He cuts it in on left-handers, he does all kinds of stuff with the ball. It was one of his days.
“The guys say when he wants to, he’s one heck of a pitcher. Sometimes, it might be a little tiresome. That one time we did get him pretty good, but when he keeps that stuff down and variety of pitches, he’s tough.”
Nolasco has now thrown 22 straight scoreless innings against the Nats, spanning three starts. Over the last two shutouts, he’s surrendered just nine hits to Nationals hitters.
His counterpart, Edwin Jackson, went just 4 2/3 innings, marking his second shortest outing of the season. The right-hander got behind early on, surrendering two runs in the second inning even though the Marlins didn’t really square the ball up that well. Three straight groundball singles and a fly ball which Bryce Harper lost in the sun turned into a 2-0 Marlins lead.
Three more runs in the fourth and one in the fifth knocked out Jackson, who prides himself on being able to work deep into games.
“Jackson had me a little bit worried because he was taking a long time in between pitches,” Johnson said. “He said he was fine. (Pitching coach Steve McCatty) had asked him to speed it up, tempo, and stop weighing every pitch as much. He was mad at me for taking him out. He said, ‘I’ll eat these innings up.’ He’s got 80 pitches. But it was just the case where, he’d really only given up four runs - more had because the ball got lost in the sun - but for him to give up (nine) hits in less than five innings, that’s a lot of hits, so I didn’t want to push him to the limit.”
The sun was an issue for Harper, but he wasn’t the only one. Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton lost a ball in the sky in the eighth inning, resulting in just the Nationals’ second hit of the day, and Miami center fielder Justin Ruggiano struggled with the sun himself.
“It was nasty,” Johnson said. “Big sun, clear blue sky. You needed to have your hand up there to block it - it was that bright. And Bryce couldn’t, he was tracking it and if you can’t get your glove up there to block the sun and then at the last minute go to it, you’re dead. He turned around and when he turned back up, he couldn’t find the ball.”
Johnson confirmed that Ian Desmond was just getting a day off today to give his hamstring a bit of a rest. He should be fine for the Nationals’ road trip, which sees them playing three in New York and three in Atlanta.