After being victimized by the Atlanta Braves over the weekend to the tune of a three-game series sweep at home, the Washington Nationals were looking for something to boost their spirits. Sure enough, the scheduling gods answered the call.
Having already swept the Miami Marlins in the season-opening series earlier this month, the Nationals were probably chomping at the bit to get back on the field Monday to face them again. And the struggling Marlins did not disappoint.
The Nationals scored early and often against the team most experts predict to finish dead last in the National League, in route to a 10-3 victory that gets the NL favorites back on favorable side of the scorecard.
Right-hander Jordan Zimmerman improved to 3-0 with a brilliant complete game performance, in which he allowed just seven base runners. He added six strikeouts, more than doubling his season total, and ended the game with a slightly higher ERA of 2.45.
After last season’s disappointing loss in the playoffs to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Nationals will be under tremendous pressure all season to get back to October baseball. With 19 games against the incredibly bad Marlins, the schedule provides several slump-busting opportunities throughout the course of the year.
Monday night’s opener puts the Nationals right back on track to defend their NL East title, as they improved to 8-5 on the season—3.5 games behind the 11-1 Braves.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)