Early runs scoring in bizarre fashion (Nats lose 5-1)

The Sun Monster has claimed its share of victims at Nationals Park over the years, most memorably Bryce Harper (who coined the scary-sounding term after losing a fly ball in the sun during his rookie season in 2012).

This afternoon, it reared its ugly head again and found a new victim at a most inopportune moment: Stephen Drew.

Drew couldn't see a routine popup to second base with two outs in the third inning, ultimately letting the ball bounce off his glove as two Marlins baserunners came around to score the first runs of the game.

Starter Joe Ross looked like he was about to pitch his way out of a second-and-third, two-out jam, inducing the popup from Martin Prado. But Drew (subbing for an ill Daniel Murphy at second base) threw his arms out to suggest he couldn't see the ball, then helplessly felt it bounce off his glove and to the ground as both J.T. Realmuto and Adeiny Hechavarria scored to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

That was a strange way for two runs to score, but then the Nationals got on the board in their own bizarre fashion in the bottom of the fourth.

zimmerman-running-white-sidebar.jpgRyan Zimmerman drove a ball to the gap in right-center, with both Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton attempting to chase it down. The two outfielders ended up colliding, each falling to the ground in a heap, lying motionless for several seconds while the ball sat a few feet away.

As the crowd gasped and teammates ran out to check on the two downed Marlins, Zimmerman had no choice but to keep running around the bases, ultimately crossing the plate with a most unusual inside-the-park home run.

Stanton and Ozuna did eventually both did eventually get back on their feet and remained in the game.

For the record, Zimmerman became the third player in Nationals history to hit an inside-the-park homer. The others: Austin Kearns in 2007 and Willie Harris in 2010.

Update: The top of the sixth was not a particularly pretty half-inning for the Nationals. Stanton homered off a first-pitch slider from Ross, apparently showing no ill effects of the earlier collision. Then after intentionally walking Adeiny Hechavarria to load the bases for Fernandez, Ross served up a two-run single to the opposing pitcher. Just like that, it's a 5-1 Marlins lead after six innings.

Update II: It's still 5-1 after eight innings as the Nats continue to flail away at everything thrown at them today. Fernandez departed after seven innings of 11-strikeout ball. Then David Phelps entered and struck out three more in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Miami pitching staff 14 of them on the afternoon.

Update III: That's a final. Nats lose 5-1 in pretty much a snoozer of a ballgame. They wind up splitting the four-game series and now get a day off before heading up to New York for the first of several highly anticipated series with the Mets this season.

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