As far as a return trip to the postseason is concerned, the Washington Nationals are gasping on life support, their one ray of hope resting on a 19-game stretch of games against weaklings that kicked off on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over the Marlins.
And the Nationals are probably licking their chops over the fact they have nine games left to play against the National League’s worst team in the last-place Marlins, who have done little to unnerve them this season. The Marlins have gone down to defeat in seven of their 10 meetings so far.
It was another typical night at the plate for Miami.
They mustered but one run off Ross Ohlendorf, that coming off Christian Yelich’s bat in the form of his second career homer, a solo shot to lead off the sixth inning.
Otherwise, the Marlins continued to fire blanks.
“I’m hoping these guys get tired of getting out,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s got to get old.”
They had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth but failed to score when Ed Lucas struck out on a check swing and Justin Ruggiano grounded out.
In the sixth, Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison each walked with one out.
But Lucas struck out again, as did Ruggiano.
There is this bewildering note to consider: Of the past 30 Marlins to reach base via a walk, not a single one has managed to score.
And such was the case on Tuesday when none of the three Marlins to walk ended up reaching home plate.
“They pretty much openly pitched around LoMo and Stanton there most of the night,” Redmond said. “And the guys down behind them have to make them pay. Really, that’s the difference.”
Three Nationals singles in the first inning off Nathan Eovaldi produced two runs, and that was all Washington ended up needing. The Marlins are now 18-26 in one-run decisions.
“We haven’t scored any runs for him,” Redmond said of Eovaldi.
“He’s that guy that doesn’t get any run support. It’s too bad.”
Ohlendorf, who brought a career mark of 20-32 and 4.90 ERA into Tuesday’s outing, didn’t yield his first base runner until Yelich singled to lead off the fourth.
Matt Harvey’s arm injury, which could require surgery and cause the Mets’ young ace to miss the entire 2014 season, isn’t changing the way the Marlins hope to protect rookie Jose Fernandez from a similar fate.
They still intend to shut him down once he reaches the 170-inning limit — or after about two or three more starts — that was established for him at the start of the season.
“The plan’s still the same with that 170-inning mark, right around there,” Redmond said.
Harvey, 24, is likely done for the year after tests revealed a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that could require Tommy John surgery.
Fernandez, 21, has thrown 152 1/3 innings.
“It stinks,” Fernandez said of the injury to Harvey, who was one of his teammates on the National League All-Star team. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game.
“When a guy has talent like that — pretty amazing what he does — you hate hearing about something like that. For me, it’s something that hurts baseball.”
Fernandez said he feels “strong” but understands the logic behind the Marlins’ decision to cut his season short once he reaches the pre-assigned innings plateau.
Two of the Marlins’ former first-round draft picks — left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney and third baseman Colin Moran — head a list of seven players in the organization that have been selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League.
The others: pitchers Edgar Olmos, Colby Suggs and Nick Wittgren, infielder Derek Dietrich, and outfielder Brent Keys.
• The Marlins activated infielder Placido Polanco from the seven-day concussion list.
• Chris Coghlan was reassigned to Triple A New Orleans, where he’ll complete his injury rehab assignment before rejoining the Marlins when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.86 ERA) at Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 3.00), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-8, 4.45) at Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-6, 3.72), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
: Strasburg is 5-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 career starts against the Marlins. This year, Strasburg is 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in his two starts against Miami.