The Nationals were coming off of the high of trouncing the Marlins 10-3 in Monday's series opener, which was a much needed win after a rough sweep at the hands of the Braves at home the previous weekend. Dan Haren was on the mound looking to turn the page to become the pitcher that the Nats thought they'd get when they signed him this offseason. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way as they lost 8-2 in an ugly one in Miami.
Haren started Tuesday's contest strongly, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing just a single to Juan Pierre in the first inning. He was getting his fastball in the 90-91 mph range, and he looked sharp, again issuing no walks and keeping the ball down in the zone through the first three and one-third innings. That started to come apart with just one big mistake.
On a ball he had way too much time to handle, Ryan Zimmerman threw a ball to Adam LaRoche at first base on a Placido Polanco routine grounder. It trailed off of the bag toward the base runner, and drew LaRoche off the bag for Zimmerman's fourth error of the season. It seemed to lead to the meltdown of Haren on the mount. He immediately gave up back to back singles followed by a three-run home run over The Clevelander by Adeiny Hechavarria to give the Marlins a 4-0 lead.
Haren only recorded one out in the fourth inning before being pulled in favor of Craig Stammen. He ultimately gave up seven runs, three of which were earned due to the throwing error by Zimmerman. It was definitely not the positive move in the right direction the Nats were hoping for from their starting pitcher. Stammen was effective in relief, and the only other run given up by a Nats pitcher in the game was, perhaps not surprisingly, by Henry Rodriguez.
The offense was also pretty lethargic against Marlins starter Alex Sanabia. However, only four of the Nats eight Opening Day starting position players were in the lineup due to various illnesses and ailments. That's not an excuse, but it is definitely worth noting regarding the offensive shortcomings. Sanabia gave up two runs on six hits through six effective innings.
The Nationals are too good to have one incident like the Zimmerman error derail a game like it did in this one. It may have simply been coincidental, but it isn't the first time that an error has caused big issues for the Nats and their pitchers
It's only 14 games into the season, and the Nats are 8-6. It's definitely not a bad spot for them to be in. The thing that is killing them now is downright inconsistent play. With a few more weeks of games under their belts, the comfort level will increase and the silly errors will go away. It's way too early in a 162 game season to worry about a game like this, but that doesn't make it any more fun to watch.