WASHINGTON -- Wei-Yin Chen's final outing of 2018 held true to his road form this season.Chen allowed all five of his runs (four earned) during the second inning as his struggles away from Miami continued, and the Marlins were swept following a 9-3, seven-inning defeat to the Nationals on Wednesday
WASHINGTON -- Wei-Yin Chen's final outing of 2018 held true to his road form this season.
Chen allowed all five of his runs (four earned) during the second inning as his struggles away from Miami continued, and the Marlins were swept following a 9-3, seven-inning defeat to the Nationals on Wednesday at Nationals Park. The game was called due to rain.
Pulled for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth, Chen allowed seven hits and walked three. He failed to go past the fourth inning for a third time this month, and each of those starts were as part of the visiting team.
Despite the uneven performance in his 13th road start, he fractionally lowered his 2018 road ERA from 9.29 to 9.27. It's a stat as perplexing as it is unsightly when compared to the impeccable 1.62 ERA he's posted in 13 starts at Marlins Park.
"We tried to find out why is it I have such a drastic difference," Chen said through an interpreter, "but we couldn't find any answers. So overthinking it wouldn't help. So I tried to just have the same mindset ... on the road as at home."
Chen at least remained healthy enough in 2018 to make 26 starts, his most since signing a five-year, $80-million deal with the Marlins with a sixth-year vesting option prior to the 2016 season.
"It's a really big thing," Chen said. "I haven't felt healthy like this for a long time. So I really took a long time in trying to focus on taking care of myself and taking care of my body."
Victor Robles had four hits and five RBIs for Washington, including a two-run double off Chen and a three-run homer off Brett Graves. Nats slugger Bryce Harper went hitless in what may have been his final home game in D.C.
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Miami's Brian Anderson connected for his 11th home run of the season, a three-run shot in the seventh off Jefry Rodriguez. That was Washington's third reliever after rookie Kyle McGowin retired the first 11 Marlins he faced in his first big league start and worked four-plus scoreless innings.
"He was in the strike zone a lot, just kind of mixing pitches," Anderson said of McGowin. "He's got a little bit of deception with his motion. He was just able to locate some pitches and get some guys that were a little over-aggressive."
Chen worked a scoreless first, but then allowed seven batters to reach and five to score before recording an out in the second. Spencer Kieboom singled in a pair of runs, a third scored on catcher Chad Wallach's throwing error and Robles doubled down the right field line to make it 5-0.
Chen recovered to work two more clean frames, but after 72 pitches, he was removed for pinch-hitter Miguel Rojas with two men aboard, none out and his spot up in the top of the fifth.
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It was still a 2-0 game with runners on the corners when McGowin chopped a grounder back to Chen, who shoveled the ball to Wallach to hang Adrian Sanchez up between third and home. But Wallach threw wildly to third, allowing Sanchez to score and the other runners to advance to second and third with Robles on deck.
Wednesday's series finale was the first of two potential send-offs in Marlins' games to close out the season, with Harper hitting free agency after the season. The second comes in Saturday's second game of three in New York, when the Mets bid their formal farewell to David Wright.
The Mets activated Wright earlier this week. The seven-time All-Star hasn't played since 2016 because of injury and hasn't played more than 40 games in a season since 2014.
"It's kind of sad to see what injuries kind of did to his career," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "But you've got a lot of respect for David and the way he handles himself in all situations, and how hard he's fought just to get back to the field. It's really something you admire."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After breaking up McGowin's perfect-game bid, Dietrich reached again in the fifth on a most unusual single. Dietrich was fooled by Grace's first-pitch slider, but held his swing just long enough to connect with the end of his bat. The ball started foul, but spun back fair from the unusual contact. Anthony Rendon charged from his third, but his running throw was wide and too late to nab Dietrich anyway.
There's majestic, and then there's Anderson's seventh-inning blast. It was the Marlins' highest home run by launch angle (46 degrees) since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015
"That's probably the highest one I've ever hit," Anderson said. "I lost track of the ball at one point. I was just hoping that it was going to stay fair. But yeah, that's pretty cool."
After an off-day on Thursday, the Marlins will close their season with a three-game set against the Mets starting Friday with a 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Citi Field. Miami will turn to Jose Urena, who will start on five days' rest. He has pitched to a 1.13 ERA in four September starts. Rookie Corey Oswalt makes his 12th and final start for New York.
Ian Quillen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.