Nationals 9, marlins 2

Washington Nationals’ early surge sinks Miami Marlins

 

Nathan Eovaldi was roughed up for five runs in three innings, and the Marlins couldn’t dig out of an early 5-0 hole against Tanner Roark.

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

Ryan Zimmerman might not be able to throw the ball anymore, but he can still hit it.

The Nationals third baseman hasn’t been himself in the field this season because of problems with his throwing shoulder, but he blasted two home runs in his first two at-bats against Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi to power Washington past Miami 9-2 on Saturday night at Marlins Park.

Eovaldi, the Marlins’ hard-throwing right-hander, showed significant signs of improvement in his last outing. But he regressed a touch against the Nationals, who played without star Bryce Harper. The lefty slugger was a late scratch, but his absence didn’t affect the Nationals’ offense much.

“I just wasn’t locating any of my pitches,” Eovaldi said. “My fastball was off, and I wasn’t really throwing any of my breaking pitches for strikes.”

Tanner Roark (5-0) got the victory for Washington. He allowed just four hits in six innings.

Washington hit Eovaldi hard from the beginning, with Zimmerman clobbering a two-run homer to left-center field two batters into the game. Zimmerman then homered to right-center field in the third inning to give the Nats a 3-0 lead. Catcher Wilson Ramos plated two runs later in the third with a long single off the right-field wall.

“[Eovaldi] was up in the zone, and they just squared him up pretty good,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He gave up a lot of fly balls, and it seemed like it wasn’t his night.”

Eovaldi gave up five runs and nine hits in three innings after going eight innings without giving up a run on Sept. 1 against the Braves.

“After a nice win [Friday night], it would have been kind of nice to go out there and get another big pitching performance, but it just wasn’t in the cards and we got out of the game early,” Redmond said.

• Giancarlo Stanton left the game in the eighth inning because of soreness in his right ankle, which he tweaked in the Marlins’ road series against Atlanta.

• Tyler Moore replaced Harper in left field and batted seventh.

SPEED MERCHANT

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez averaged 96.3 mph on his fastball Friday night, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The average set a personal best for pitch speed in a game and came during yet another dominant performance for the 21-year-old rookie, who has become one of the favorites for National League Rookie of the Year.

BAT BOY?

Fernandez will make his final start of the season Wednesday against the Braves, who have run away with the National League East. Because of Fernandez’s innings limit (170), it’s unclear how many innings he will be allowed to throw. After going seven innings Friday, Fernandez has thrown 165 2/3 innings this season.

Fernandez said he might keep himself busy during games by substituting as the team’s bat boy.

“I was going to ask if I could be a bat boy for some games because I don’t like myself sitting in the dugout without … I need to do something and be moving around,” Fernandez said. “I think it’s going to be different, and we’ll see what happens.”

RECORDS WATCH

Fernandez’s strong finish to the season has put him in contention for several club pitching records. A rundown:

• Fernandez (11-6) is 8-0 at home after Friday’s victory, which ties him for the best home winning percentage in the majors along with Jake Peavy of the Boston Red Sox. Also, Fernandez’s 14 consecutive home starts without a loss is a club record to begin a career.

• The rookie has an ERA of 2.23, which would be the second-best ERA in team history if the season ended today. Opponents are batting .181 against Fernandez, which is on pace to be a club record.

• Fernandez’s home ERA (1.19) and opponents’ batting average (.161) are currently the lowest in club history.

Coming up

•  Sunday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (3-5, 2.13 ERA) vs. Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.85), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

•  Monday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 3.95) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Kris Medlen (12-12, 3.48), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

•  Scouting report: This is the final time to see the Nationals at Marlins Park this season.

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