If there’s one guy in the Marlins lineup, you don’t want to beat you, it’s of course Hanley Ramirez. But you can’t avoid pitching to the dynamic shortstop altogether, certainly not when he’s leading off an inning.
So J.D. Martin had no choice but to go after Ramirez leading off the top of the fourth, and he wound up paying the price for it. Ramirez slammed a solo homer to left off the rookie right-hander, giving Florida a 1-0 lead (Ramirez now has hit 11 homers against Washington the last two seasons. Amazing). That, however, is the only mistake Martin has made through six innings, and he deserves credit for not putting himself in a position where Ramirez can inflict some real serious damage. It was the right move to intentionally walk Ramirez in the sixth after Nick Johnson’s leadoff double. The move worked, because Martin got Jorge Cantu to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and then snared Dan Uggla’s comebacker.
Of course, all this would matter more if the Nationals were simply able to string together a couple of hits against Anibal Sanchez. So far, they haven’t been able to do that. They’ve amassed three singles and a double off the right-hander so far, but haven’t been able to push across a run yet. They just loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Alberto Gonzalez hit a weak grounder to first to kill that rally.
So there you have it. Through six innings, the Nats trail 1-0.