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Nationals-Marlins: Good, Bad & Ugly of Washington's 9-6 Loss

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IApril 19, 2009

ATLANTA - APRIL 11: Pitcher Joel Hanrahan #38 of the Washington Nationals throws in relief against the Atlanta Braves on April 11, 2009 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Yesterday, the Washington Nationals blew a ninth-inning lead for the second time in as many days and dropped to 1-9 on the season.

The Result

For the second day in a row, Washington closer Joel Hanrahan blew a save in the ninth inning, surrendering a tying home run to the Florida Marlins' Jeremy Hermida. Then, two innings later, Hermida won the game by homering off Wil Ledezma, and the Nats lost 9-6 to the Fighting Fish.

Florida is now 10-1 on the season, with five of those victories over the Nationals. Washington is 1-9 and losing players to injury at an alarming rate.

Outfielder Roger Bernadina, starting in center field because Elijah Dukes was benched for being late to the game, fractured his ankle crashing into the center-field fence after making a circus catch on a Dan Uggla drive in the eighth inning.

He was placed on the 15-day DL immediately following the game; the Nats are expected to recall Justin Maxwell for Sunday's game.

The late-inning collapse spoiled an otherwise good day at the park. Austin Kearns hit his second career grand slam in the bottom of the first, and Scott Olsen turned in his best performance of his young Nationals stint, allowing two earned runs on six hits and one walk in seven innings.



The Takeaway

There were a couple of causes for concern today.

Bernadina's injury is devastating to his career. He will probably miss a couple months, and this time out will seriously stunt his Major League development.

Dukes' tardiness, on the surface, was bad. However, he was at a team-approved little league function, so the Nats can't be too hard on him. He was fined and reportedly took it professionally and in the spirit it was intended.

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There were other reports, however, that he was threatened by the team with demotion should it happen again. Mixed signals? An acting GM trying to exert authority?

Stay tuned to "As the Nats Turn."



The Good

Scott Olsen.

This makes three quality starts in a row for the starters. Olsen had just one walk and five strikeouts in seven innings, painting the black all day. But his velocity, which seemed to be better in his last start, was back to 86-87 MPH today.



The Bad

Julian Tavarez and Wil Ledezma.

The pair combined to seal the Nats' fate this day. Tavarez started the 11th inning by walking Ross Gload and letting Wes Helms reach on Alberto Gonzalez' throwing error.

Then manager Manny Acta brought Ledezma in to face the left-handed Hermida, and Wil promptly allowed a three-run homer.



The Ugly

Joel Hanrahan.

Two days in a row, this struggling team has brought a lead into the ninth inning only to see Hanrahan give it back on a home run.

Joel, here's a suggestion: Scrap the change-up. Stick with the hard stuff. You're a closer, you don't need three pitches.



Next Game

Sunday at 1:35 PM the Nationals will try to get off the schneid against the Marlins. Daniel Cabrera (0-1, 4.91) is to attempt to play stopper against Chris Volstad (2-0, 1.50).



Notes

Alex Cintron, who had his contract bought by the Nats after they placed Cristian Guzman on the 15-day DL, made his debut today. He struck out in his only appearance.

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