It’s never a good thing when Brad Hand faces the Washington Nationals.
Not for the Marlins. Hand was allowed to labor through a tortuously painful four-walk fifth inning in which the Nationals wiped out a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead, going on to win 5-2 on Saturday.
Hand is now 0-7 with an ERA of 7.74 against Washington in his career. Only once in his 10 starts against the Nats has he even managed to make it past the fifth, and it was the fifth on Saturday that turned out to be his undoing.
The inning began harmlessly enough when he struck out Wilson Ramos. Then the roof caved in. He gave up a home run to Tyler Moore, a .202 hitter, and a single to pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who came in with a .138 average.
Next came the walks. He walked Anthony Rendon and Yunel Escobar, retired Bryce Harper on a game-tying sacrifice fly, and then walked Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond to force in the go-ahead run.
It was only then that manager Dan Jennings took him out. Why not sooner?
“It was his game,” Jennings said. “I wanted to give him a chance to get through it and battle for the final out. The bases on balls were the undoing. I probably should have went and got him. I probably stayed a batter or two too late.”
Jennings said the specific issue for Hand in the fifth was that his release point changed to his detriment.
“I just kind of lost feel for my fastball, couldn’t throw it for strikes,” Hand said. “I had a chance to get out of that inning with the ballgame tied. They gave me that chance after I got Harper, but I just lost it in that inning.”
The Nationals extended their lead in the seventh on Harper’s 41st home run, a two-run shot off Kyle Barraclough.
After scoring two runs in the first off Zimmermann, who no-hit them on the last day of the regular season last year, it turned into a quiet afternoon offensively for the Marlins.
▪ It was a busy day in right field for Ichiro Suzuki. With nine putouts, Suzuki tied the Marlins’ franchise record for putouts by an outfielder in a nine-inning game.
The others to do it: Austin Kearns, Mark Kotsay and Justin Ruggiano. Suzuki is the only right-fielder of the group to glove nine fly balls.
Prado still out with wrist injury
Martin Prado remained out of the lineup Saturday for the second game in a row with an injury to his left wrist, which is affecting his swing. Prado said if the injury doesn’t improve within the next couple of days, he’ll likely have an MRI after the team returns to Miami.
Prado said the injury is especially frustrating because it occurred at a time when he was swinging a hot bat. Since Aug. 31, Prado is 23 for 59 (.390), with the Marlins going 12-4 with him in the lineup.
“It’s unbelievable,” Prado said. “You feel good, and then things like this happen.”
▪ Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (hamstring) is making progress and could return to the lineup after the Marlins come home.
▪ Since the Marlins didn’t take batting practice on the field before Saturday’s game, neither did Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton said Thursday he hoped to take batting practice on Saturday if his injured hand felt better.
Sunday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81) at Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (9-7, 3.98), 1:35 p.m., Nationals Park.
Monday: Off day.