It’s official, to the surprise of no one.
The Marlins accomplished two things at once in falling 5-0 to the Washington Nationals on Sunday: they eliminated themselves mathematically from the National League East race and extended their run of consecutive losing seasons to seven.
Not that there was ever a doubt. The Marlins (61-82) have been out of it for months.
“It’s been a trying year for various reasons,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. “We didn’t envision it this way when we were putting together the ball club in November and December.”
After displaying flashes of late life by winning nine of their previous 11 — and even without the services of either Giancarlo Stanton or Adeiny Hechavarria — they were flat on Sunday at Marlins Park, as the Nationals avoided a three-game sweep.
Brad Hand couldn’t find the strike zone and was lifted in the fourth, and the lineup couldn’t put a dent in Max Scherzer, who has been struggling badly the past month.
Hand (4-6) issued three walks in the third, including one with the bases loaded, and has turned in three lackluster starts in a row, going 0-3 with a 13.96 ERA. Of his 67 pitches, barely half (35) were strikes.
As for Scherzer (12-11), Derek Dietrich was about the only Marlin who inflicted any serious damage, and it wasn’t with his bat.
Dietrich, starting at second base for the first time all season, was covering the bag when Bryce Harper ran into him in the first. Harper went tumbling to the ground and remained there for quite some time.
While Harper was able to walk off on his own power, he came out of the game.
The Marlins didn’t do much of anything with Scherzer, who had gone 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA over his previous seven starts.
But he got well against the Marlins, the last team he managed to defeat when he held them without a run over seven innings in Miami on July 30. He did it to them once more Sunday, blanking them over eight innings.
HURTS SO GOOD
For Dietrich, the nicks and bruises are worth it.
Dietrich not only leads the Marlins in being hit by pitches with 12 — more than a third of the team’s total — but he has one of the highest plunk percentages in the majors.
“I’m not afraid of getting hit, ever,” Dietrich said.
On average, Dietrich has been hit by a pitch about once every 20 plate appearances this season.
Only Tampa Bay’s Brandon Guyer is more prone to being hit, but just barely.
The key to Dietrich’s penchant for getting plunked?
“I don’t get out of the way,” he said. “If you throw the ball inside in my box, it’s my right. I don’t have to move. It’s always been part of my game. To get on base once a game is huge.”
HISTORY FOR JOSE
Some historical perspective on Jose Fernandez’s sensational home record, which he improved to 16-0 with a win over the Nationals on Saturday night:
▪ Fernandez owns a 1.11 ERA in 25 career starts at Marlins Park. Since earned runs became a statistic in 1912, only one other pitcher has had a lower ERA in his first 25 home starts: Ferdie Schupp of the New York Giants (1.05) from 1913-17, part of the “dead ball era.”
▪ During the “live ball era” (starting in 1920), the next-lowest ERA for a pitcher’s first 25 home starts belongs to Vida Blue (1.40).
Outfielder Cole Gillespie remains unavailable with an injured left hand. Gillespie said he damaged ligaments in the hand when he crashed into the wall during the Milwaukee series.
▪ Monday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.72 ERA) at New York Mets RHP Logan Verrett (1-0, 1.93), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (9-13, 3.99) at Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (13-7, 2.40), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.