Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins no match for Stephen Strasburg in series finale against the Nationals

Don Mattingly explains why the Marlins fired their hitting coach

The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.
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The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.

The Miami Marlins’ offense had no problem executing against the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer on Saturday night to clinch their first series victory of the season.

Sunday against Stephen Strasburg was another story.

The Marlins managed just two hits off the three-time All-Star while striking out 11 times during Strasburg’s eight shutout innings on the mound to drop the series finale against the Nationals 5-0 and miss out on their first series sweep since September 2017. It’s the MLB-worst sixth shutout loss of the season for the Marlins (6-16), who went 3-6 over the nine-game homestand and now prepare for a two-city road trip that starts in Cleveland on Tuesday for two games and continues with a four-game set in Philadelphia on Thursday.

“He had pretty much everything working,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “... We didn’t really get anything going today, didn’t really have opportunities to shake the game up a little bit, but that’s going to happen.”

It was a sour end to the series, which the Marlins won after opening the three-game set with a 3-2 win on Friday and a 9-3 win on Saturday in which the Marlins had 11 hits and put together what Mattingly called “our best game” of the season.

The Nationals (10-10) scored two of their three runs off starter Trevor Richards on solo home runs that barely cleared the left-field fence — first by Ryan Zimmerman with two outs and a full count in the third inning and later by Brian Dozier with one out in the seventh. In between the two homers, Adam Eaton scored on a sacrifice fly from Howie Kendrick in the sixth that scored Adam Eaton from third base and could have been an extra-base hit if Lewis Brinson didn’t make a running grab in deep center field.

Zimmerman hit his second homer of the game in the ninth inning off reliever Tyler Kinley, and a Wilmer Difo RBI single off Wei-Yin Chen four batters later closed scoring.

The Marlins, meanwhile, managed to put just seven runners on base all game — three after Strasburg exited following the eighth — and went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. Kyle Barraclough, who the Marlins traded to the Nationals in October for international pool money, and Sean Doolittle combined to pitch a scoreless ninth to seal the shutout.

Barraclough struck out Curtis Granderson and Martin Prado to start the frame before walking Brian Anderson and Neil Walker before being pulled for Doolittle. Starlin Castro promptly reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Kendrick to load the bases but Miguel Rojas flew out to right field to end it.

Richards, despite his fourth quality start of the season, dropped to 0-3 on the year. He scattered six hits over a season-long 6 1/3 innings while giving up three earned runs, striking out seven and walking two.

“Just going to build on this one and keep going,” Richards said.

And while the consistent results are still not there yet for the Marlins, Mattingly said winning their first series brings some positives to the team in spite of the loss on Sunday.

“You grind away. You get ready,” Mattingly said. “Obviously we haven’t had the success to this point that we want. We won our first series this series. Not happy with the result today, but we had to get a series under our belt before we could start getting down the road. ... This series was good for us. Hopefully the next series is good and moving forward.”

This and that

With his first-inning single, Anderson has safely reached base in 10 consecutive games since getting an off day against the Cincinnati Reds on April 10. In that stretch, Anderson is hitting .361 (13 for 36) and has drawn nine walks.

Brinson started in center field for the first time since Tuesday after getting five days on the bench to reset following struggles at the plate. He went 0 for 3 on Sunday, bringing his 11-game slump to 1 for 27 with 16 strikeouts.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.