Adam Conley wishes he could take back two pitches, reaching out with his long left arm and pulling them back for a do-over.
The 89th pitch he let loose with on Tuesday.
And the 90th.
The back-to-back pitches resulted in back-to-back home runs for Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos, breaking a scoreless tie and propelling the Nationals to a 7-0 victory over the Marlins.
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The two blows were only the beginning of one of the most ruinous innings in Marlins history.
Bryce Harper hit a grand slam and Ryan Zimmerman added a solo shot in the seventh, both off Chris Narveson.
The four home runs for the Nationals in the seventh were the most ever given up by the Marlins in an inning. They had given up three homers in an inning 14 times previously.
“I think if you see the score, it’s kind of a horrible game,” manager Don Mattingly said. “[But] it was a really well-pitched game other than some pitches there in the seventh.”
Conley battled the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg through six scoreless innings before Werth and Ramos unloaded in the seventh. Werth hammered a 3-2 fastball to deep left-center just before Ramos connected on a first-pitch slider that barely got out.
“My process was really good until I took a breath there in the seventh,” Conley said. “I felt like zeroes were just going to keep coming. And that just goes to show my immaturity and how short I’ve been up here. Those guys are on the prowl all the time, and when I let up, they took advantage.”
Until then, Conley was matching his far more heralded Nationals counterpart zero for scoreboard zero. Conley ended up with eight strikeouts, with two coming against Harper.
“Strasburg and I had kind of been trading punches all game and those hitters, are just waiting for an opportunity, and when I let up there they took it,” Conley said.
But what was a great pitching duel turned into a blowout in a matter of one-half inning.
After Werth and Ramos went deep off Conley, Strasburg stroked a two-out single to keep the inning alive. Conley came out after giving up double to Michael Taylor, and Nick Wittgren, who was making his big-league debut, walked Anthony Rendon.
“I felt great,” Conley said. “[But] another mistake I made was thinking how deep into the eighth I could get. And I’m not even through the seventh yet. So, I just can’t let up there. I can’t take a breath and think it’s going to come easy.”
Mattingly brought in Narveson to face Harper and try to hold the score to 2-0. But Harper cleared the bases with his seventh home run to make it 6-0. Zimmerman followed with a solo homer that would not have made it out had the Marlins not moved in the fences this season. Not that it really mattered at that point.
The Marlins mustered only three hits off Strasburg, who went eight innings.
Conley tried to take away some of the positive from the outing.
“I feel like I found a piece of gold with what I learned today,” Conley said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get kicked in the teeth a little bit and learn the hard way, and I feel like I did that today.”
Said Mattingly: “It’s really encouraging watching him pitch. This guy, he pitches like your ace. He came after these guys like he had no fear of them. He’s a guy on the attack. He throws the ball like a top-of-the-line guy.”