BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH: NATIONALS 12
(8) – 9 MARLINS
About time we enjoyed a good old fashioned cellar battle.
If we take “Marlins” to mean: That perennially bad team at the bottom of the N.L. East…
Then we have here tonight a game of Who Are the Real Marlins:
The Marlins, or the Nationals?
The Nationals have just lost five in a row, swept in four games by the Mets.
With Bryce Harper gone, Daniel Murphy gone, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, Wilson Ramos gone.
A shell of that former great-but-never-won-anything dynasty…
As they creep, ever so closer, to Marlinsville.
Just in time, it seems…
As the Marlins Marlins have come to town.
A Marlins team that, somehow, has just won six games in a row.
After a surprising spate of good baseball, in Detroit.
The Tigers were 1 out away from a W but then…
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 23, 2019
Making people wonder… making them think outlandish thoughts.
Clearing out my October schedule for the Marlins in the World Series. pic.twitter.com/mVj0qLBBAE
— Will Manso (@WillManso) May 23, 2019
And putting these two teams, matched up tonight, within 1.5 games of each other in this Battle for the N.L. Anti-Throne…
With these Marlins looking keen to abdicate.
Winning 9-8 going into the bottom of this eighth inning.
As the fans at Nationals Park approach the nosedive that goes, in this 2019 season…
Hope • Hopeless • Defeated • Faux-apathy • Sadness • True apathy
And a looming summer of tuning out completely.
A line drive that hits Trea Turner's glove goes into center field and the Marlins take a 9-8 lead. He should have caught it. It's scored a single, but it should be his third error of the night.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) May 25, 2019
To make things worse, Trea Turner comes up to lead off the inning for Washington, and he strikes out looking on a borderline pitch below his knees.
Can it get worse?
As Shakespeare wrote, in King Lear:
“And worse I may be yet: the worst is not, so long as we can say ‘This is the worst’.”
Translation—it can get worse.
Even the national baseball writers are piling on:
Six straight for Marlins! Two straight sweeps. And now they face the Nats, which gives them a chance to keep it going.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 23, 2019
But then. But then.
The worst wriggled its way up into something. And something sprouted into better.
As these Nats, just barely, creep out of the jurisdiction of collapse.
Adam Eaton draws a walk. Then Anthony Rendon follows, with another walk.
The Marlins make a double switch, and Tayron Guerrero comes in from the bullpen for Nick Anderson.
Did you know that Anthony Rendon walked more than he K'd in college? #Itstrue Rendon takes the 2nd walk of the #Nats' 8th and Juan Soto is up with two on and one out in #Nationals Park… Rendon up to 18 BB/26 Ks on the season.
— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) May 25, 2019
Juan Soto comes up, takes two pitches, fouls off a heater over the plate.
Then a 3-1 count, a 100-mph fastball down the middle from Guerrero, and…
Just like that, the Nats go up, 11-9.
Juan Soto crushed the go-ahead HR in the 8th off a 100.1 mph fastball from Tayron Guerrero.
It's the only triple-digit pitch a Nationals player has homered against in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). pic.twitter.com/T9PgvsGWhH
— David Adler (@_dadler) May 25, 2019
Hey Tayron… this is the major leagues you can’t just throw 98 MPH down the middle… #marlins
— Kevin Smith (@Smith31Kev) May 25, 2019
Matt Adams comes up to follow, with the bases empty.
And he, too, gets the triple-digit mph fastball over the plate.
And he, too, sends it into the stands.
12-9, Nationals ahead.
Before last night, the @Nationals hadn't homered off a 100+ mph pitch since pitch tracking began in 2008.
Then Juan Soto and Matt Adams took 100.1 mph and 101.5 mph pitches deep against the Marlins. pic.twitter.com/ZK8Iz3ihhQ
— #Statcast (@statcast) May 25, 2019
“The crowd’s going nuts,” they say on the broadcast. “They’re losing their minds right now at Nats Park!”
BIG CITY FOR REAL!!!! Matt Adams slays his 100th career HR with a 101 MPH fastball
— Rachel Hopmayer (@rmhopmayer) May 25, 2019
“Well,” they say, “Don Mattingly had one guy in there who throws it all over the place, brings in a guy who can throw strikes, and they both leave the yard.”
And so, back to the bullpen phone it is.
One of the most wild, back-and-forth games all year.
A tourniquet for the bleeding Nationals.
And a knife into the momentum of the gunning-for-fourth-place Marlins.
Back to their rightful habitat. The Marlins are the Marlins.
In the bottom of the ocean.
Or, more like it, in a valiant attempt to escape… launched onto a dock.
Out in the open air, stuck in place. Flopping around.