What should have been an on-field celebration now that the rudderless Washington Nationals finally have an owner turned out to be just more of the same this early season, another excruciating home loss.
On the same day Bethesda developer Ted Lerner and his family were selected as new owners of the Nationals, the players demonstrated the Lerners may have some work to do to get this club competitive.
The Nationals were outdone by the Florida Marlins, a team with a $15 million payroll.
Marlins pinch hitter Hanley Ramirez blooped a single to center field off Nationals closer Chad Cordero to snap Florida’s five-game losing streak with a 6-5 victory at RFK Stadium.
The three-hour, 54-minute marathon saw the Nationals (9-19) lose for the ninth time in 11 games and run their home record to 1-8. The Nationals are also 1-7 this season in one-run games.
The Nationals battled out of a 5-0 hole and tied the game 5-5 on catcher Brian Schneider’s first home run of the season. But they lost it when Ramirez’s two-out single that scored outfielder Dan Uggla.
Nationals reliever Mike Stanton (1-3) took the loss. Marlins reliever Joe Borowski picked up his fourth save of the season when he retired the Nationals in order in the ninth.
Until last night, starter Tony Armas had been one of the Nationals’ more reliable starters with a 2-2 record and a 2.76 ERA in five starts. The Venezuelan right-hander had strung together four consecutive quality starts for the first time in over three years.
But last night the 27-year-old was all over the place with his pitches in his shortest outing of the season. Armas lasted just 21/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on five hits. He also served up two home runs, hit two batters and unloaded a wild pitch that allowed a run to score.
Armas threw 65 pitches, and both his hit batters got him into instant trouble. In a scoreless game, Armas hit Miguel Olivo to open the second inning. One batter later, Reggie Abercrombie made Armas pay with a towering home run to left field that gave the last-place Marlins an early 2-0 lead.
The scenario repeated itself in the third inning. With one out, Armas hit superstar Miguel Cabrera. After Josh Willingham’s double into the left-field gap, Armas uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Cabrera to score from third and make it 3-0.
Armas then grooved a 3-1 pitch to Wes Helms, who made it 5-0, when he went deep to left with his first home run of the season.
The Nationals reduced the five-run deficit by scoring two runs in the third. Jose Guillen’s bloop single to left scored Jose Vidro from second, and catcher Brian Schneider subsequently walked with the bases loaded.
Notes — Right-hander John Patterson pitched three shutout innings yesterday and is on schedule to pitch Monday in a rehab assignment at Class A Potomac.
Patterson, who went on the disabled list Friday with a right forearm strain, allowed just four hits in an intrasquad game at the Nationals extended spring training camp in Viera, Fla. Patterson struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in 45 pitches. The plan now for Patterson is to throw around 65 pitches Monday against the Kinston Indians. …
Injured shortstop Cristian Guzman will be re-evaluated today in Washington. Guzman, who opened the season on the DL with a torn right shoulder, has been rehabbing at the Nationals’ extended spring camp. Team officials want the club’s medical staff to re-examine Guzman before they send him out on his next rehab assignment, most likely to Class AAA New Orleans. …
Outfielder Ryan Church and pitchers Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Mike Stanton, and Gary Majewski will visit injured military service personnel today at the Walter Reed Medical Center.