Dedicated to the constructive criticism of the Washington Nationals.


E-mail us at:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Martis' Big Night Leads Nationals Over Marlins, 9-4

by Anthony Amobi and Dave Nichols

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the 2008 season comes to a close, teams in the second division such as the Washington Nationals have nothing to play for but pride and the chance to see youngsters and role players compete for jobs next year. Last night, rookie Shairon Martis – who at 21 years old is youngest of the young on the squad – earned his first Major League victory as the Nats officially knocked Florida out of playoff contention, defeating the Marlins 9-4.

Martis (W, 1-3, 5.89) was good, but not particularly spectacular, as he went five and one-third innings and gave up three runs – all earned – on five hits. He struck out five and walked two. Meanwhile, his opponent on the mound, Scott Olsen (L, 8-11, 4.23), took the loss as he went five innings and gave up four runs – three earned – on eight hits, while striking out two and walking one. Martis' teammates came in huge for him, as Ryan Zimmerman belted his team-leading fourteenth home run, SS Alberto Gonzalez had four hits, three runs and two RBIs, and Lastings Milledge went 3-for4 with three runs driven in.

Florida took a 1-0 early lead in the very first inning as Mike Jacobs plated Hanley Ramirez with a two-out single. In the bottom of the frame, the Nats would come right back, as 2B Anderson Hernandez (2-for-5, two runs, two RBIs) reached base with a single before Zimmerman slammed a two run home run to deep left field off of Olsen and Washington took the lead, 2-1.

The Marlins tied the game at two in the top of the second inning as Josh Willingham took Martis deep with his thirteenth home run of the season. Undaunted on this evening, Washington would regain in the lead in the bottom of the third inning as Lastings Milledge hit a sacrifice fly that plated Alberto Gonzales – who had singled to start the frame and advanced to third – for a 3-2 lead.

In the fifth inning, Washington would take a 4-2 lead as Alberto Gonzalez hit a one-out double and advanced to third on Zimmerman's single. Milledge knocked in Gonzalez with a sacrifice; however, the inning would come to end and the Nationals failed to do any more damage as OF Elijah Dukes grounded out and Aaron Boone struck out looking.

Florida added another run to come with one of tying in the sixth inning as Martis walked Jorge Cantu and Mike Jacobs in succession. Manager Manny Acta decided at that point to lift Martis and hand things off to the bullpen. Dan Uggla singled off Stephen Shell to plate Cantu, but Shell induced a ground ball double-play ball from Josh Willingham to quash the rally and finish the frame.

Washington added another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Walks to Willie Harris and pinch-hitter Pete Orr were sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt by Wil Nieves, and Hernandez ripped his third hit of the night off Marlins’ reliever Jesus Delgado to center to put the Nationals up, 5-3.

The Marlins became unglued in the eighth inning and Washington took the opportunity to rip them for four more additional runs late in the game. Willie Harris again walked to lead off the inning, and advanced to second off a Nieves sacrifice bunt. Reliever Eulogio De La Cruz walked pinch hitter Roger Bernadina and then he and Harris executed a double-steal without a throw. Hernandez came through again and plated both Harris and Bernadina with a single to center to put the Nationals up, 7-3.

After Hernandez advanced to second off a wild pitch by De La Cruz, Gonzalez drove him in with a single to center. Minutes later, Lastings Milledge capped off the inning by singling up the middle to score Gonzalez – who had advanced to third off a passed ball by catcher Jeff Baker – putting Washington’s ninth and final run on the scoreboard.

Cody Ross homered off Joel Hanrahan in the ninth inning to score Florida’s fourth run, but by then, the game was more than over.

With only five games left in the season – including the final two games in the inaugural season of Washington's Nationals Park– the Nats are eagerly trying to avoid the 100-loss plateau, the ultimate mark of a disastrous season. They need to win four of their last five to do the trick, but at least got started on the quest last night.

A scant crowd of 20,657 came out to Nationals Park on a autumn evening and left home happy, but not fulfilled in any sense of the imagination considering how long the season has truly been for even the most loyal and ardent fan.

Tonight's game is at 7:10 pm, game two of the three-game series with the Marlins. Tim Redding (10-10, 4.67) hosts Josh Johnson (6-1, 3.65).

Stock Photo (c) C. Nichols 2008.

No comments: