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Marlins’ Pablo López keeps fighting Nats at bay

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And for their seventh straight loss, the Washington Nationals ran into Pablo López, one of the best starters in the majors through three weeks. The right-hander did not give Washington a way to shake off his offensive funk. He did the exact opposite.

With six pointless innings, López put the Miami Marlins ahead for a 2-1 win at Nationals Park on Wednesday night, giving them a chance to beat Washington (6-14) on Thursday afternoon. López held the Nationals to three hits and shaved his ERA from 0.52 to 0.39 (a earned run in 23⅓ innings). They were no match for a shift that disappeared from the left wing and to right-handed bats.

The middle of their lineup – Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz – finished 0 for 9 with three times. Two of them came in the eighth when lefty reliever Tanner Scott issued back-to-back, two-out free passes to Bell and Cruz.

Scott would never have appeared if Jesús Aguilar made a routine play in third place. Then he would have been out of the game if Jazz Chisholm Jr. caught Sotos soaring pop-up on the right side of the infield. Instead, Anthony replaced Bender Scott and made Yadiel Hernandez fly out to the warning lane in the left center and stranded the bases full.

Nationals, Orioles announcers will travel with teams while MASN reverses course

The Nationals’ best “rally” tonight did not contain a hit. Both dugouts thought Hernandez’s 107-mph drive was a grand slam off bat.

“I still think we take too many fastballs,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We just have to be more aggressive in the strike zone and be ready to strike early. That’s the only way we can get out of it. The last 12 games I was right inside and going through it with [hitting coach] Darnell [Coles] for a minute and the last 12 strokes were good. Now we have to do it throughout the match. “

When the season began, it was clear that Washington needed Soto, Cruz and Bell to hide the rest of the lineup’s shortcomings. So what happens when they are cold too? Another unbeaten defeat. Bell, the most productive to date, was moved from fourth to third Wednesday, replacing Cruz as Soto’s bodyguard. But the tremor did not give the intended spark. Not yet, at least, since Martinez could give it a new look – and at this point, why not?

By the end of the night, Cruz, signed for $ 15 million to protect Soto and thump homers, had an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 0.509. The 41-year-old is certainly not National’s biggest problem. Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, Victor Robles and Alcides Escobar are probably higher on the list. Midfielder Lane Thomas struck out four times on Wednesday, three of which looked out. Lucius Fox, who started in place of Escobar at shortstop, is 0 for 18 on the year and is still looking for his first career hit.

What is it like to throw up in front of an entire ball field? ‘It was crazy.’

Still, Cruz has been much more of an issue than a solution this month. An optimist might say that it is only April of a long season. However, a pessimist could relate Cruz’s age and his hard walk in the last two months of last year as he struggled after being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. The early results here have not been promising.

“Nothing special,” Cruz said when asked about his lack of production. “I feel like I’ve hit the ball hard. I feel like I’ve been unlucky. That’s what it is. No one is going to feel sorry for me. It’s me who has to go out and compete and do my job.”

How did the Marlins get ahead of Wednesday? Aguilar took Erick Fedde deep in an ineffective outing for the Nationals’ 29-year-old right-hander. Aguilar took three close balls – two of them potentially lost calls in Gabe Morales’ inconsistent battle zone – before rocking a sinker out to the center. Then Fedde and reliever Andrés Machado issued three consecutive two-out walks in the fifth, with the latter bringing in Marlins’ second run.

Fedde, who typically thrives against the Marlins (9-8), needed 91 spots to record just 14 outs, including 24 in a one-two-three quarter because Miami fouled off nine. He facilitated the use of his cutter, which Martinez recently called his best pitch, and mostly threw his sinker and curveball to the right-heavy order. Due to a lack of deep starts, the Nationals have used at least five pitchers in each game in their losing streak.

When was the last time they fell seven in a row? August 28 to September 4, 2021, a month after Washington swapped eight veterans away by deadline. But that slip did not even reach September 5 because the Nationals snatched it in the second round of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. They have scored 14 runs on their current slide, an average of two in a competition.

What’s the latest with Stephen Strasburg? The right-hander threw a 37-pitch bullpen session in West Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday. Joe Ross, who retrained according to a similar schedule, logged about 45 spots. Both could soon meet batsmen in live batting training, though Martinez said the same after their previous bullpen sessions. Strasburg remains on the sidelines after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last summer. Ross had a bone spore removed from his elbow in early March.

A few weeks later, Ross was shut down while Strasburg saw batsmen on a back field at the team’s spring training facility. But Strasburg was put back when, as Martinez put it, “his mechanics were off.” Washington’s company line is that the club wants Strasburg to rejoin the team and stay. The not so subtle message is that this can take a while.

What triggered perhaps the night’s biggest cheers in Nationals Park? Gio Gonzalez, a former Nationals starter, is introduced on the big screen between the bottom of the fourth and the top of the fifth. Gonzalez was bundled together and sat in the second row behind the home plate with his family. He pitched for parts of seven seasons with the Nationals and retired after spending spring training with the Marlins in 2021.

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