The Nationals aren’t the Mets.
Nor are they the Giants, Phillies or Padres — the other softies the Marlins used to vault themselves into playoff contention these past two weeks.
No, the first-place Nationals can play a little, and Monday they put the Marlins in their place with an 11-2 mauling that marked Miami’s worst loss since a 10-1 loss to — yes, the Nationals — on Aug. 9.
“Our last few losses have been just like this it seems like,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “Every one of them has been one those games where you just get knocked around early. We take it on the chin, and then we bounce back (the next game).”
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Indeed, when the Marlins were winning 13 of 16, their three losses were by scores of 9-4, 8-1 and 8-0.
The Marlins picked a poor time to take on the division leaders.
The Nationals activated pitcher Max Scherzer and outfielder Jayson Werth from the disabled list, just in time for the series opener, and both did damage.
Scherzer cruised to an easy win in which he held the Marlins to a run on five hits. He struck out 10 over seven innings. His only miscue: an opposite field solo homer by Christian Yelich.
“I thought we did an okay job with him, honestly,” Mattingly said. “You’ve just got to stay in it. He’s not a guy you want to be down five, six runs with.”
After Yelich’s homer in the fourth cut the Nationals lead to 2-1, the Nationals struck back in their half of the inning when Werth walloped a two-run homer off Marlins starter Jose Urena.
Urena said he was trying to hit the corner with a fastball. But he missed his target, the ball hung over the middle of the plate, and Werth pounded it into the left field bleachers.
The outing was a struggle for Urena. He threw 94 pitches in four innings before coming out.
“I tried to attack the zone, but they were taking so many pitches,” Urena said. “The main thing was I was making the pitches I wanted. But they were taking pitches and you’re wasting pitches.”
Scherzer and Urena each brought identical 12-5 records into the game, but they were nothing alike in their performances Monday.
“It just wasn’t that night for him,” Mattingly said of Urena.
Still, it wasn’t until the Marlins’ relievers took over that the game got out of hand. Dustin McGowan and Justin Nicolino combined to give up six runs in the sixth.
The big play in the outburst came when Howie Kendrick rifled a low liner to center. Yelich ran in, hoping to make a play on it. But the ball skipped past his glove and rolled to the wall for a three-run triple.
“I think it’s the right play for Yeli to try to make a play there,” Mattingly said. “But that one gets away and the game kind of goes from there. It think that kind of turned the game.”
▪ Giancarlo Stanton, who was named the National League Player of the Week earlier in the day Monday, was a nonfactor. He grounded into a double play and struck out twice in his only three at-bats.
▪ Marcell Ozuna reached base in each of his four trips to the plate with a walk and three hits, including a RBI single in the eighth.
▪ In addition to his home run, Yelich also walked and singled.
▪ The Nats went to town against the Marlins’ relievers in the sixth, scoring six runs off Dustin McGowan and Justin Nicolino.
▪ The Marlins have gone 6-8 this season against Washington.