Don Mattingly talks about 3-2 loss to Nationals on Thursday
It’s become a way-too-familiar script.
Giancarlo Stanton, as he has a major-league best 18 times this season, gave the Marlins a lead with a majestic home run. It was a two-run shot in the third inning.
The Nationals then erased that early 2-0 advantage three innings later and secured a 3-2 comeback victory on Thursday night.
Nationals center fielder Brian Goodwin’s solo homer to right field in the eighth off reliever Junichi Tazawa (1-2) dealt the Marlins (53-60) a third loss in four games against the Nationals (68-45), who now have a 15-game lead over Miami in the National League East.
Dan Straily was cruising through five shutout innings in which he had zero walks and allowed a single hit.
The Nationals would get three hits in the sixth though, scoring twice and tying the game on a double by Bryce Harper.
The Marlins felt after the game they might have avoided Harper’s hit had they not had a miscommunication with a sign for a pickoff attempt that could have ended the inning before he tied the game.
“We didn’t want to pitch to Harper, and we were trying to not pitch to [Ryan] Zimmerman either,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We were trying to run a back-pick [to second base] and instead of running the back-pick we throw a pitch and that cost us.”
Adrian Sanchez doubled down the left-field line to lead off the sixth inning and scored two batters later on a single by Goodwin, who then stole second. With two outs, Mattingly said the plan was to try to pick off Goodwin at second and not pitch to Harper.
“We were trying to pick that guy off so we wouldn’t have to pitch to either one of them,” Mattingly said. “If we don’t get it, we just walk Harper and then we go after Zimmerman.”
Straily walked Zimmerman after Harper’s double and was taken out of the game after 89 pitches, ending what had the potential to be his most effective start since the All-Star break.
“We all missed it,” Straily said. “It was a miscommunication. It was something that I realized I thought was a different sign the entire season. I’m lucky that other times I’ve done it, I haven’t missed it. It’s frustrating to miss the sign like that and miss the location on the pitch.”
Miguel Rojas hit a one-out double off Nationals closer Sean Doolittle in the ninth. But pinch-hitter J.T. Realmuto grounded out and reserve left fielder Andrew Stevenson ended the game with a great diving catch to rob Dee Gordon of a potential tying hit.
Gordon appeared to injure his right hand after being caught stealing at second base in the seventh inning. Gordon said he jammed it when the umpire accidentally stepped on it but said he felt fine after the game.
Stanton’s 422-foot home run to left field off Tanner Roark came in the third inning and was his sixth home run in the past seven games. It was also his major-league best 13th since the All-Star break and extended his major-league leading total to 39.
The Marlins finished 2-5 on their trip through Atlanta and Washington and return home for six in a row against the Rockies and Giants starting Friday night.