Nationals slammed, drop two of three to last-place Marlins
One of the few sounds in the Nationals clubhouse late Sunday afternoon was the drip, drip, drip of the showers as players dressed quietly and headed home after a soul-crushing 12-1 loss to the last-place Marlins.
The second loss to the Marlins in as many days lengthened the already long odds against the Nationals making the postseason something new for a team accustomed to being comfortably ahead in the National League East standings this time of the season.
“I always feel we have been ahead at this time, super far,” Bryce Harper said.
But this year, once filled with promise, has come undone even before the last month of the season appears on the calendar.
On Sunday afternoon, before a crowd of 31,435 that had to either cover their eyes or let out a stifled boo, the Nationals suffered an 11-run loss for the second time this season with Gio Gonzalez as the starting pitcher.
Harper let a ball clank off his glove in center field. Shortstop Trea Turner bobbled a routine grounder. Reliever Tommy Milone, a member of the starting rotation until Saturday, gave up three homers in four innings.
And Gonzalez imploded, giving up eight runs and 10 hits, faster than the Nationals’ new bullpen cart could keep track of relievers.
“In all honesty, it was an ugly game,” said manager Dave Martinez. “Everybody saw it. It got ugly. It was tough.”
The third-place Washington Nationals, a World Series favorite back in March, continued its consistent march to mediocrity, losing the weekend series with the Marlins. The Nationals have now lost four of their last seven to Miami.
This from a team that had defeated the Marlins 14 times in a row through July 7.
The loss ended an eight-day stretch when the Nationals lost back-to-back games on walkoff homers, lost three of four games in St. Louis and two of three at home to the Marlins.
“We have had some journeys, we have had some ups and downs,” said Gonzalez, who has been with the Nationals since 2012. “This is the one that kind of stings a little bit. Tip your cap to them they played a great game today.”
The Nationals (62-63) entered Sunday seven games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves and 6.5 games behind the second-place Phillies, who begin a three-game series at Nationals Park on Tuesday night.
Sunday was a tough one for Harper, who was charged with one error in center and couldn’t come up with some other hits.
“A rough day for him,” Martinez said.
He was 0-for-4 at the plate as the Nationals managed just two doubles, by Adam Eaton and Matt Wieters, against Marlins starter and winner Jose Urena.
Miami (50-76) had 17 hits. The Nationals’ other 11-run loss this year came with Gonzalez on the mound 11-0 at Tampa Bay in June.
Gonzalez entered Sunday with a career 10-3 record and a 1.89 ERA against the Marlins, his hometown team. The veteran lefty had been even better at Nationals Park against the Fish, with a mark of 6-1, 1.27 before Sunday.
The Marlins won a series at Nationals Park for the first time in four years.