MIAMI – It has been 11 months to the day since the Nationals last won at loanDepot Park. It’s also been that long since the Nationals last beat the Marlins after starting this season 0-6 against their division rivals.
Those streaks came to an end tonight as the Nats finally beat the Fish 7-4 in front of 12,409 fans.
It has been 20 days since Joan Adon took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Reds in Cincinnati, a two-out single breaking up the perfecto bid and leading to three runs against the young right-hander in an otherwise incredible return to the rotation.
After allowing eight runs in seven innings over his last two starts, Adon recaptured that Cincy magic in South Beach, this time by taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning.
“Man, his fastball was good," manager Davey Martinez said of Adon after the game. "His breaking ball was good. His changeup. His changeup was really, really good today and made all the other pitches that much better. He attacked the zone and when he does that, he's really effective. He pitched really well for us and we were able to get a win.”
With one out, it seemed as if Jazz Chisholm Jr. singled up the middle to break up Adon's no-hit bid. But the official scorer originally called it a fielding error by CJ Abrams, even though it looked like the ball bounced off the second base bag, leaving the no-no intact. Two batters later, Luis Arraez hit a no-doubt single to center field to break it up.
At the end of the inning, the scorer officially changed Abrams’ error to a hit for Chisholm, which became the one to break up the no-hit bid. But more importantly, Adon struck out former National Josh Bell with an 89-mph changeup to strand two baserunners in scoring position and end the frame with a 3-0 lead intact.
“I kind of mentally prepared myself from the previous pitch," said Adon, via interpreter Octavio Martinez, of his battle with Bell. "I was going inside and I said if that's not the pitch that gets him out, then I'm gonna go with my changeup away. And I did.”
“It was a big moment. He's got a good one," Davey Martinez said. "He's got a good one and he needs to add it and throw it a little bit more. But he used it perfectly today like I said. Had some great movement on it and a big moment for him right there. He's able to strike out Bell, which ain't easy. Came through big time. We needed him to go five, six plus.”
Adon didn’t overpower the Marlins tonight, but he did just enough to keep them off the scoreboard and show why the Nationals still have faith the 25-year-old can be a major league starter.
“I feel very competent in all my pitches, not just that one," he said. "I feel very confident in all my pitches.”
Even though his velocity was a tick higher across his arsenal, the Marlins were making solid contact off Adon early on. But none were dropping for hits. The first baserunner against him before the sixth was Jorge Soler in the first on an error by Alex Call, who collided with Lane Thomas on a shallow popup. Then Adon hit Bryan De La Cruz in the fifth to put just the second baserunner on against him.
But after his big strikeout of Bell in the sixth, Adon had completed six shutout innings of two-hit ball, no walks and three strikeouts on 94 pitches, 60 strikes. After previously dealing with cramps due to the amount he sweats on the mound, Adon seemed to enjoy pitching in the climate-controlled 72-degree temperatures inside Miami’s dome, as opposed to the humid, 86-degree weather outside.
“All my five pitches were working today," he said. "I felt like all five of them were working today very well.”
Adon’s outing was especially impressive as he was holding onto a slim lead for most of the night.
The Nationals scored quickly as Abrams singled on lefty Braxton Garrett’s first pitch of the game, moved to second on Thomas’ groundout, stole third base and scored on Meneses’ groundout.
That 1-0 lead lasted until the sixth inning, when Keibert Ruiz’s two-out single set up Carter Kieboom’s two-run home run. Kieboom’s second homer since he joined the team on Sunday came off a first-pitch curveball right down the middle, landing 409 feet beyond the left-center field wall.
Kieboom is now hitting .400 with a 1.555 OPS, one double, two homers, three RBIs and a hit by pitch in his three games back with the Nationals.
“Honestly, in control I would say is the best way to describe it," Kieboom said of his success this week. "Sticking with a plan. Whatever happens, happens. That's kind of the way I'm approaching things. I'm not trying to do too much. I'm not trying to put any added pressure, make myself get a hit. I just really try to stick with the approach and go from there.”
The Nats put up what turned out to be three big insurance runs in the seventh, thanks to a two-run double by Meneses and an RBI single by Ruiz.
With a 6-0 lead going to the bottom of the seventh, Mason Thompson entered from the bullpen to make his first appearance since Tuesday. But the right-hander gave up five straight hits to suddenly make it a 6-3 game.
Next came Robert Garcia, who was claimed by the Nationals from the Marlins on Aug. 1. Facing his former team, the 26-year-old left-hander allowed one inherited runner to score on a groundout and then induced a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. He then came back out for a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts.
“It was good," said Garcia. "Just wanted to go out there and compete. Got into the situation, just reevaluated what I needed to do and took a deep breath and trusted myself. I trust the guys behind me. Just went out there and did my job.”
After Call redeemed himself from his first-inning error and fifth-inning pickoff at second with a big RBI single to get one insurance run back in the eighth, Hunter Harvey recorded his 10th save of the season to close this one out.
Having now won 10 of their last 13 games and six of their last eight series openers, the Nationals are now owners of an impressive 15-7 record in August and a one-game lead over the Mets in the National League East. It's the first time they haven't been in last place this late in the season since 2021.
“Let's do it again tomorrow," said Davey Martinez while superstitiously knocking on his wooden desk.