WASHINGTON (AP) – If so, Pablo López looks up when he’s not feeling very well – dizzy, a kind of ear in his head, “eyes limping, in video game terms,” to use his description – imagine what the Miami Marlin right wing will do on days when everything is perfect.
“There was something that was not 100% true today (when) I woke up,” López said. “It took me a second to focus.”
So he hydrated, ate a banana – and was effective as it may be Wednesday night, lowering his major-best ERA to 0.39 by throwing six shutout innings to help Miami move above 0.500 for the first time in 2022 by edging the falling Washington Nationals 2 -1.
“Up front in the counter, mixing seats. Really nice work. Keep doing his stuff – and really on one night I don’t think he was doing that well,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
By mixing a four-stitch fastball, cutter and changeup before an announced crowd of 13,356, López (3-0) stunned a Nationals offense that has scored a total of 14 runs over a losing streak that grew to seven games.
López, who came in with an ERA of 0.52, gave up just three hits and knocked out six.
Jesús Aguilar homerized Erick Fedde (1-2) in the third, and Miami led 2-0 in the fifth as Jacob Stallings’ single was followed by three in a row – the last two by reliever Andres Machado – to push across of another race.
Nationals coach Dave Martinez messed with his lineup and swapped Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz – Bell moved a spot up to No. 3, behind Juan Soto, with Cruz sliding somewhere to clean up. That trio went 0 for 9 by three times; in defense, right fielder Soto and first baseman Bell were each accused of a foul.
Martinez also replaced rookie shortstop Lucius Fox – who left Sunday’s game after throwing up in the first inning – in place of the .123-batting Alcides Escobar.
With two outs in the eighth, César Hernández reached on a foul by first baseman Aguilar, bringing up left-back Soto. Miami signed with left-hander Tanner Scott, who made Soto show up, but second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. failed to get hold of and was accused of a mistake. Bell went to fill the bases, and Scott also went out with Cruz, forcing an undeserved run into 2-1.
With the bases still full, Anthony Bender came out of the inning when Yadiel Hernandez flew out to the warning lane.
“It’s a homer, dude. It’s been a homer for 100 years,” Cruz said. “There’s something wrong. I do not know what it is. We can only speculate, but it was strange. “
“Yadiel smashed that ball into the left center. We took a break there, just because of the wind a little bit, the cold air, ”he said. “The bun does not travel as it does in the summer.”
Bender stayed in the ninth and worked around Maikel Franco’s single from the wall on the left to earn his fourth save in five chances. He got Fox to fly out to finish it.
Nothing really seems to be working right now for Washington, who are 6-14 and come after two last places in the NL East since winning the 2019 World Series. Only the Cincinnati Reds have fewer wins.
“We have to get it done. That’s the bottom line. We have to get the job done, you know?” said Cruz, hitting .167. “Everyone – including myself.”
The Marlins, meanwhile, have won four consecutive games to get to 9-8 after a 1-4 start.
Take the pandemic-shortened season of 60 games in 2020 out of the equation, and the Marlins have not finished an entire year with a winning record since playing 87-75 in 2009.
In 2021, their 67-95 was just better than the Nationals’ 65-97.
“We want to be 0.500 all season. We know the start was a bit shaky, but from there we all knew we wanted a winning record all year, ”said Chisholm. “We do not want to jump back and forth from losing to winning the record.”
Two childhood friends, Washington’s Fox and Miami’s Chisholm, became the first pair of Bahamas – born players to appear in the same major league game since 1961.
Marlins: SS Miguel Rojas played after missing three games with an upper respiratory disease.
Nationals: RHPs Stephen Strasburg (thoracic outlet surgery) and Joe Ross (bone spurs in right elbow) threw more than 35 pitches apiece in bullpen sessions in Florida.
Two struggling left-handers line up in Thursday’s series final: Washington’s Patrick Corbin vs. Miami’s Trevor Rogers. Corbin is 0-3 with an 11.30 ERA; Rogers is 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA.
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