Nats start homestand with another quiet loss (updated)

Last week, the Nationals were finally able to break their curse of the Marlins that was nearing two full seasons. Having yet to beat them this season, the Nats took two of three in Miami over the weekend en route to a 5-4 road trip.

Entering tonight, the Nats were hoping to continue their change of future against a division rival while also continuing their strong play over the last two months.

Those hopes were lost to the wind in a 6-1 loss in front of 17,428 fans on a breezy night in the District.

Joan Adon faced the Marlins for the second time in less than a week. But he could not replicate the six scoreless innings he tossed Friday in Miami.

“The first outing last week, I had a good feeling of all my pitches," Adon said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. "I knew I just had a real good feeling of every pitch and I felt like I had a lot more energy. Today, for some reason, my energy was low and I didn't feel the same way about my pitches. I just didn't have the same feeling.”

Dealing with command issues for parts of the night, Adon only completed five innings and allowed five runs on nine hits. His spotty command also led to a walk, two hit batters and two wild pitches along the way.

“He just couldn't repeat his mechanics," said manager Davey Martinez. "His arm was lagging a little bit with some pitches. That's why I think he got a little wild. So we'll get it back and get him squared away. His last time it was, as we all saw, he was really good. This time he fell behind a lot and just couldn't get it all together. His rhythm was off a little bit. His tempo was a little off as well.”

Struggling to get ahead in the count throughout much of the night, Adon put himself and his team in a hole quickly in the first. Luis Arraez started the game with a leadoff single, ending Adon’s no-hit bid just like that after he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning last week.

Adon did run into some bad luck when Josh Bell’s comebacker hit off him and took an unfortunate bounce toward the third base line, just far enough that the right-hander couldn’t make a play in time. That moved Arraez into scoring position so he could score on Bryan De La Cruz’s double three batters later for a 1-0 lead.

Things got weird in the fourth, when Adon surrendered two hits and hit Nick Fortes to load the bases with one out. Arraez hit a soft blooper toward second base, and Michael Chavis either let it drop to try to turn a double play or got caught in between trying to catch it or field it off the hop. Regardless, he couldn’t make a throw toward first after recording an out at second, so he threw to Carter Kieboom at third for a reverse force out. That allowed the Marlins to score to make it 2-0, but did not grant an RBI to Arraez.

“I didn't talk to him about it, but I think he dropped it," Davey Martinez said of Chavis' play. "Thought he could turn a double play. Smart play. The run scored. I think it caught CJ (Abrams) by surprise a little bit. I thought it was a smart play. You get a chance to turn a double play and not let Josh Bell come up there and hit. It's pretty smart.”

“It's definitely difficult," Adon said about facing the same team in back-to-back starts. "I feel like they make better adjustments to you because they've seen you just recently. I felt like that first inning. I was throwing some very good changeups and for some reason I feel like they were just reading them real well.”

The final blow off Adon came in the fifth inning when a single and a hit batter set up Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s three-run home run. Chisholm smashed an inside curveball from Adon into the Nationals bullpen for a 5-0 lead.

“We give up a run early and now we're playing catch up," Davey Martinez said. "I think the home run took some of the life out of the guys. But we got to come back. We got to come back tomorrow and play our kind of baseball. Like I said, move the ball around, take our walks and try to score some runs.”

Adon threw 84 pitches, 50 for strikes, which is a solid strike-to-ball ratio. It was just that the timing of his wildness was less than ideal.

“I think the biggest difference was just how I felt," Adon said. "I didn't feel like I was in the same form as I was in the previous outing.”

Jake Burger’s homer off Joe La Sorsa (activated to the roster before the game with MacKenzie Gore going on the bereavement list) in the ninth scored the Marlins’ last run.

In a pitching rematch from Friday, Braxton Garrett took the mound for the Marlins and had another solid outing against the Nats. After holding this lineup to three runs over six innings Friday, the left-hander held the Nats to just one run and three hits over six innings in tonight’s win.

The Nationals didn’t get their first hit off Garrett until Kieboom’s single with two outs in the fourth. Before that, their only baserunner was Joey Meneses via a hit by pitch in the first. And like we’ve seen a few times from opposing starting pitchers, it wasn’t as if he was overpowering Nats hitters. He was just getting a lot of weak contact.

"For some uncharacteristic reason, we were late today in just getting ready early hitting-wise," Davey Martinez said of his hitters. "So we gotta get ready early, stay on the fastball and start hitting balls in the middle of the field.

Garrett only struck out one batter and only got one swing and miss (Jacob Young, making his Nationals Park debut, in the third). But the Nats struggled to make solid contact and put the ball in play. Essentially, they failed at the old “hit 'em where they ain't” adage.

The only run scored off Garrett came on back-to-back hits by Jake Alu and Young to set up Abrams' sacrifice fly in the fifth.

“They were off," Davey Martinez said. "Some balls I thought they took, we're usually aggressive with every swing. They're just late. They were real late.”

Overall, the Nats were held to six baserunners on three hits, two walks and a hit batter. A quiet way to start this nine-game homestand.

They have been held to just one run over their last two games and have lost four of their last five.

"Other than the last two days, we've been playing well," the skipper said. "So let's just come back tomorrow and play our game.”

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