Coming off a three game sweep of the Braves in Atlanta, the Nationals might have been expected to be flat. But the Nationals started well in Miami, holding a 3-1 lead until the middle part of the Marlins’ order struck. Then too, as Nationals fans know, the Marlins have always been a team that seemed to have Washington’s “number.”
As it turned out, the Nationals were not flat, and the Marlins did not seem to have their number. Instead, it was two hanging sliders that made the difference in the Memorial Day tilt, as the Fish downed the Nationals 5-3.
Miami’s heroes included two well-known N.L veterans — starter Carlos Zambrano and closer Heath Bell — as well as several veteran stalwarts: Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison and former Met Jose Reyes. Zambrano pitched six solid innings, Health Bell notched his eighth save and Ramirez, Morrison and Reyes were a combined 6-11 in leading the Marlins’ attack.
The Marlins’ victim was Jordan Zimmermann, who delivered his usual solid outing, though without getting a win. According to Zimmermann, it was two pitches that cost him the game, both in the sixth inning: an offering to Hanley Ramirez that resulted in a single, and the one to Giancarlo Stanton that resulted in a towering home run.
“Zimm pitched a good ballgame, he just made a bad pitch to Stanton,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of his young and talented lefty. “To get beat on that pitch was tough. He was so in control until that inning and had a low pitch count and was throwing the heck out of the ball. You just can’t make mistakes in that part of the lineup.”
The Marlins are red hot. They have nineteen wins in May and have supplanted the Braves (who have lost eight in a row) as pretenders to the N.L. East crown. “I think the way we started, a lot of people don’t believe in what we can do,” Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen said, after the victory. “The talent is there. This team, little by little, is starting to put stuff together. Little by little, they believe they can compete in this game.”