The frustrations continued for Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday, but not because of poor pitching on his part. Eovaldi was simply out-pitched by Stephen Strasburg.
In what was nothing more than a tuneup for the postseason, Strasburg handcuffed the Marlins in a 5-1 victory, giving up only two hits and a walk before taking his bow and turning it over to the bullpen in the seventh.
It was a sobering loss for the Marlins, who returned to earth in a hurry following their most prolific scoring game in four years, a 15-7 victory Friday night.
And it was another disappointing outcome for Eovaldi, who suffered his eighth consecutive loss despite turning in one of his better performances. Eovaldi held the first-place Nationals to two runs over seven innings.
“I thought he pitched great,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It was nice to see him finish up on a good note. He pitched good enough to win that ballgame.”
Eovaldi has gone 1-10 since the All-Star break.
But he has made some recent changes with his delivery and concentrated on throwing more off-speed pitches to go with his fastball. He has looked better in his past couple of starts.
“I was really struggling just to make it to the fifth inning,” Eovaldi said. “And then these last two starts, we made some mechanical adjustments, and just mixing up the pitches to both sides of the plate and throwing more off-speed pitches. I’ve been working on that, and it’s helped out a lot.”
After the Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, Eovaldi kept the damage to a minimum, holding Washington to one run and striking out Bryce Harper on a breaking ball with the bases full to end the inning.
“I was just able to mix up the pitches, moving the fastball to both sides of the plate,” Eovaldi said. “My curveball felt good [Saturday].”
Eovaldi just didn’t receive any help from the Marlins’ lineup.
Jeff Mathis doubled into the gap in the third inning, and Casey McGehee was credited with a single on a ball that was dropped by Jayson Werth in right and was originally scored an error.
Beyond that, the Marlins did nothing offensively until the ninth, when they scored their only run.
“It was a tough day for us,” Redmond said. “We didn’t get anything going. Probably our one hit [by McGehee] was a little bit of a gift out there.”
Until the ninth, Mathis was the only runner to reach second for the Marlins, who were nearly shut out for the second time in as many days. Nationals starter Doug Fister three-hit the Marlins in the first game of Friday’s split doubleheader.
The Marlins had the bases loaded with one out. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s line drive up the middle was snagged by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond to end the game.
Though Eovaldi’s final won-loss record (6-14) isn’t much to look at, he did manage to finish the season with 1992/3 innings, which leads the staff. He said his goal was to get to 200.
“To come one out away, it makes me look back at those outings I had before where I was struggling to make it to the fifth,” he said.