They might be in the same division.
But when it comes to disappointing seasons, the Marlins aren’t even in the same league as the Nationals, who have been one of the biggest busts in the majors — if not the biggest.
The Nationals were the darlings of the preseason media prognosticators, picked by the masses to run away with the National League East and waltz into the World Series. But after dropping a 6-4 decision Thursday to the Marlins, they are fighting just to remain above .500, their playoff hopes all but crushed.
One reason the Nationals have failed so miserably is that the Marlins, whose own season has been nothing short of a disaster, have given them so much trouble.
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The Marlins have gone 9-7 against Washington, the only NL East team they have a winning record against.
On Thursday, the Marlins put away the Nationals once again, with Justin Bour powering the way with his 18th homer and Jarred Cosart doing just enough on the mound to hold them at bay.
Bour’s three-run shot off Tanner Roark in the fifth was the backbreaker for Washington, which brought a four-game winning streak into the series.
Cosart, meanwhile, turned in six steady innings, giving up a two-run homer to Ian Desmond in the second but little else. Desmond’s blow was the only hit given up by Cosart until Bryan Harper flared a single to left in the sixth.
The Nationals trimmed the deficit to 6-4 in the eighth when the Marlins’ bullpen struggled. Manager Dan Jennings used four relievers in the frame before bringing in closer A.J. Ramos to get out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Michael Taylor.
Ramos worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 28th save.
The on-again-off-again status of Giancarlo Stanton is back on hold after tests performed earlier in the week on his injured left hand revealed an “abnormal amount” of internal scar tissue.
Stanton hasn’t taken batting practice since Monday in New York and doesn’t expect to step back in the cage again until Saturday at the earliest.
He said doctors in New York told him “the strength’s not there. Don’t overdo it. Do what’s manageable.”
Stanton said he still hopes to play before the end of the season.
But time is clearly running out. And he said the scar tissue won’t be gone anytime soon.
“Not in a couple of weeks,” Stanton said, understanding it might require the entire offseason for the hand to completely heal.
“That’s kind of the big speed bump as far as getting the strength back,” he said. “That has altered the anatomy of my tendons. So that’s what’s going on.”
After breaking the hamate bone on June 26 and undergoing surgery, Stanton was initially expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. But his recovery has taken far longer.
This and that
▪ They are calling for picture-perfect weather through the weekend in the nation’s capital, likely putting the Marlins that much closer to a franchise first: an entire season without one postponement.
They haven’t had a single rainout all season.
After the Marlins leave Washington, they play nine of their final 12 games in enclosed ballparks, including their own.
▪ Entering their series with the Nationals, the Marlins had won each of their five previous series, something they hadn’t done within a season since 2003. Why, after getting off to such a poor start, have they suddenly come alive?
“I think there’s no pressure right now,” said Marlins broadcaster and former player Preston Wilson. “I think it’s a matter of guys just playing like there’s nothing to lose. It’s September baseball. It happens everywhere.”
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (5-0, 2.06 ERA) at Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.91), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81) at Washington Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.51), 4:05 p.m., Nationals Park.