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Marlins get to Scherzer, but 'pen can't contain

May 25, 2018

MIAMI -- The Marlins on Friday were able to do what no other club had done so far against Max Scherzer. Miami scratched out seven hits and four runs off the reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, both season highs.But as the offense kept bouncing back, the bullpen

MIAMI -- The Marlins on Friday were able to do what no other club had done so far against Max Scherzer. Miami scratched out seven hits and four runs off the reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, both season highs.
But as the offense kept bouncing back, the bullpen wasn't able to hold things down. The Nationals broke through in the seventh inning, behind Bryce Harper's two-run double, to hand the Marlins a 9-5 loss in the series opener at Marlins Park.
"Our at-bats were good," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "[Scherzer] is not one of those guys you're going to bang around. Our guys fought. I thought they battled."
The loss was especially tough for Miami because in the sixth inning, Martin Prado sustained a left hamstring strain, and he could be out for an extended period of time.
"Unfortunate for us. It seemed like the whole game went right down the tubes when that happened to him," Mattingly said. "Nothing went right after that."

The first meeting between the NL East rivals featured both teams' Opening Day starters, Scherzer and Jose Urena. Both were charged with four runs in six innings.
Derek Dietrich belted a two-run homer off Scherzer in the sixth, which pulled Miami even at 4. But the Nationals got to Nick Wittgren in the seventh.
Michael A. Taylor, who connected on a two-run homer off Urena in the second, started the rally with a double in the seventh. Back-to-back walks and an infield single set up Harper's at-bat in the three-run inning.
"Jose kept us in it, we got a big hit from Dietz, we had some good at-bats, and then we've got a ballgame," Mattingly said. "At that point, it was kind of out of Scherzer's hands and in the bullpens' hands. We just couldn't really stop them."

Scherzer (8-1) has been masterful all season, entering with a 1.78 ERA. The ace had not allowed more than two earned runs or six hits in any of his first 10 starts.
Urena matched Scherzer for most of the night, giving up four runs on a pair of homers to Taylor and Matt Adams. Urena matched his career high with seven strikeouts.

The Marlins got on the board in the fourth inning on Miguel Rojas' two-run single. In the sixth, Dietrich capped a seven-pitch at-bat, in which he lined a couple of balls just foul, with a two-run homer that Statcast™ projected at 395 feet, with an exit velocity of 103.4 mph.
To Rojas, the night changed when Prado left the game.
"That's a bigger loss than losing the game tonight," Rojas said. "I know how hard he works. I know how he dedicates his career to being a top-of-the-line player and an even better person off the field. Seeing this happen to him over and over the past couple of years has been rough. All we can do is keep praying for him that it's not that bad and he can come back this year."

The Marlins were playing catch-up all night, rallying from two runs down to tie the score in the fourth and sixth innings. After the Nationals scored three times in the seventh, going up 7-4, Miami made things interesting in the bottom half of the inning on Brian Anderson's RBI double. With two on, Lewis Brinson worked a full count in an eight-pitch showdown with Brandon Kintzler but struck out.

Brinson actually had an encouraging night, even though he went 0-for-3 with a walk. He nearly homered in the third inning and lined out to right field in the sixth.
"I'm happy with the way Lewis is going," Mattingly said. "If you asked me 10 days ago if he was able to look this good, I probably wouldn't have thought so. But to me, he's making true strides. He's having a lot better at-bats."

Prado was in the process of enjoying his best game of the season with a single and two doubles in his first three at-bats -- all against Scherzer -- but his night ended in the sixth inning when he aggravated his left hamstring while reaching first base on Trea Turner's error at short.

The hamstring is the same one that landed the veteran third baseman on the disabled list to start the season. The Marlins are listing Prado as day to day, but there is concern. Prado's first game of the season came on April 27, and he appeared in just 37 contests last year, dealing with hamstring and knee issues.

Rojas had his perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at shortstop come to an end in the seventh inning. Turner hit a broken-bat liner to Rojas, who didn't pick up the ball well. Rojas jumped, and the ball deflected off him. It was ruled an error, snapping a string of 54 straight games at short without an error.

"I think I did everything. I did it the right way. I listened to people who told me, 'Hey, man, you have to back off sometimes.' I think I did all that." -- Prado
After facing the Braves in his last start, Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen sees another National League East rival at 4:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at Marlins Park. Chen takes on the Nationals, a team he is 1-5 (4.69 ERA) against in his career. Washington counters with Tanner Roark.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.