It’s generally a bad idea in a 162-game baseball season to attach too much significance to any one victory, so we’ll try not to do that here. But there’s no question the Nationals’ 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Marlins on Friday night is a key win.
The Nationals had lost three straight heading into Friday, and another loss to the Marlins would have dropped them four games under .500. They’d won just 15 of 56 against Florida since the start of 2008, and they were missing two-thirds of their opening day outfield because of injuries. But for them to overcome that, not to mention a Nationals record-tying 17 strikeouts, was impressive.
Much of the credit goes to a pitching staff that put itself back together after a rough series in Philadelphia. Jordan Zimmermann got a season-high six strikeouts (which figures, after we spent the morning talking about the Nationals’ lack of strikeouts), and Tyler Clippard added six more (he’s just rubbing it in now). And Drew Storen and Sean Burnett combined to throw two scoreless innings, holding the Marlins down while the Nationals scratched together the winning run in the 10th. Zimmermann has always pitched well against the Marlins, and they’re an aggressive-swinging team, but it was a good sign for him to show swing-and-miss stuff. The Nationals also proved again that if they can play clean defense and get a game into the hands of the Clippard-Burnett-Storen triumvirate, they’ve got a chance to steal some games where they don’t hit.
One other note: Rick Ankiel was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game with a sprained right wrist. The Nationals will announce a corresponding move tomorrow, but Roger Bernadina was pulled in the fourth inning of Triple-A Syracuse’s game tonight. He was called up once this season, and he seems like the obvious choice to fill in for Ankiel.
Rejoice, Sharkadina people. I don’t get your goofy nickname, but live it up.