The Marlins finally got some offense going Monday. Unfortunately, it happened on the same night their pitching staff got lit up for just the second time this season.
Led by seven players with multi-hit games, the Nationals pounded out 16 hits — a season-high allowed by the Marlins — and knocked starter Wade LeBlanc out early en route to a 10-3 win in front of 15,933 fans at Marlins Park.
“We’re only three starts in, but something’s got to change,” LeBlanc said of his penchant for giving up runs in the first inning — he came in having allowed all five earned runs in the first and gave up four Monday. “We have to figure out how to get through that first inning unscathed and give these guys a chance. That’s a priority now at this point.”
The Marlins (2-11) did accomplish a rare feat in defeat, though. For just the third time this season they put up more than one run an inning. They scored twice in the sixth with two outs on a Juan Pierre double and a Chris Coghlan single.
An inning later three consecutive hits by Greg Dobbs, Justin Ruggiano and Rob Brantly brought in the team’s third run. For the Marlins, who have has scored a major league-low 23 runs this season and have been shut out four times, it was the first time in eight days they managed to score three runs in a game.
For a moment there it even looked like the home run sculpture in left-center field might actually light and up and whirl, spouting water for the first time this season. But Dobbs’ scorching line drive off Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann to open the seventh dropped to the turf about five feet in front of the right-field wall. He settled for a double and later scored on Brantly’s single.
Zimmermann still went the distance for the Nationals. He gave up six hits, three earned runs, a walk and a strikeout to improve to 3-0. LeBlanc fell to 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA.
“He’s a good pitcher and when you have that many runs behind you it makes him even better,” manager Mike Redmond said. “I was happy with the way we battled. We didn’t quit. We kept fighting. We scored a couple runs on him and had some good at-bats. I felt like we had much better passes tonight and swings than we’ve had in the last few days, for sure.’’
By coming up short on home runs again Monday, the Marlins have now gone nine consecutive games without a home run, tying the longest power drought in franchise history (1993 expansion Marlins).
The last Marlin to homer was Dobbs on April 5 at Citi Field in New York. The team’s two homers ranks them last in the majors.
The Nationals, meanwhile, put a three-game sweep by the first-place Braves last weekend in Washington in the rearview mirror by jumping all over LeBlanc. For a moment, it looked like Washington might honor Jackie Robinson by scoring 42 runs on the Marlins.
After giving up two hits and then a walk to Bryce Harper to load the bases, LeBlanc gave up a two-run single to Ryan Zimmerman and then a double to Ian Desmond and another two-run single to Tyler Moore to fall behind 4-0 in the first.
Desmond, Moore and Steve Lombardozzi then put together three consecutive doubles to make it 6-0 in the third. LeBlanc didn’t make it out of the fourth, giving up nine hits, seven earned runs and two walks in just 3 2/3 innings.
Reliever John Maine didn’t fare much better. Zimmerman crushed Maine’s first offering into The Clevelander in left field for a two-run home run to make it 8-0. He finished with a team-leading four RBI. Moore finished 2 for 5 with three RBI, and Desmond led the team with four hits.
With the crowd performing the wave — maybe to entertain itself — Coghlan picked up the Marlins’ first hit with a bouncer into center in the fourth inning. But the positive play was quickly erased when Placido Polanco grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.