Missed chance magnified in seventh
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Limited to just three hits and one walk makes it difficult to manufacture much offense. And when you’re facing Stephen Strasburg, the task is even more daunting.
That’s why the seventh inning in Miami’s 2-0 loss to the Nationals on Opening Day was critical.
The inning started with promise when Giancarlo Stanton doubled down the left-field line with one out. The hit, Miami’s second of the game, snapped a string of 19 straight retired by Strasburg.
Placido Polanco followed with a single on a ball shortstop Ian Desmond knocked down up the middle. Miami had runners on the corners with one out for Rob Brantly.
Brantly ripped a hard liner to left, but it was right at Bryce Harper. It wasn’t particularly deep, making it pretty much impossible for Stanton to tag and score. But Stanton tagged, and took a few sprint steps towards the plate, prompting the throw. Harper launched a strike to the plate.
Stanton applied the brakes and retreated to third, but by then, Polanco, who was watching to see what Stanton was doing, was halfway between first and second. He was caught in a rundown. The hope was it would last long enough to get Stanton to score.
Once Stanton committed to home, Danny Espinosa made the easy toss to catcher Wilson Ramos, who easily applied the tag on Stanton. Instead of closing the gap to 2-1, the Marlins were caught in a 7-2-3-4-2 double play.
“I think he thought Stanton was going to go,” manager Mike Redmond said of Polanco. “Stanton faked halfway down the line, and he stopped. I think that’s what happened, he took off because he thought he was going to go. Stanton would have been out anyway.
“Plays like that get magnified when we only get three hits. That’s the difference. We had a couple of chances, if we scored in the first, maybe we could have switched the momentum to our side early, and who knows what would have happened.”
In the first inning, Miami had another chance when Juan Pierre, who singled to open the game, advanced to third with two outs. But Polanco hit a sharp grounder that was snared by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who tossed on to first.
Against an imposing pitching like the Nationals have, Miami will have to figure out ways to generate runs.
The challenge doesn’t get any easier with Gio Gonzalez on the mound on Wednesday.
– Joe Frisaro