After getting swept in their home-opening series, the Washington Nationals could find the road equally difficult Friday when they open a three-game series against Dontrelle Willis and the Florida Marlins.
The Nationals (2-8) have lost five straight and were routed at RFK Stadium in a three-game series by the New York Mets. Washington was outscored 23-6 in the three games, capped by a 13-4 rout Thursday afternoon, and has been outscored 35-13 during its losing streak.
Looking to spark his team, Nationals manager Frank Robinson batted Alfonso Soriano leadoff, and he went 1-for-5. After the game, the team recalled outfielder Ryan Church and infielder Brendan Harris from Triple-A New Orleans.
“This ballclub is showing signs of not going anywhere,” Robinson said. “So we’re not going to sit still here and see us go in the hole without trying to do something.”
Johnson is hitting .324 (11-for-34) with three homers this season, and .288 (19-for-66) with three homers and 15 RBIs in his career against the Marlins.
Willis (0-0, 1.38 ERA) has received little offensive support despite pitching well in his first two starts. The left-hander has limited opponents to two runs and eight hits over 13 innings, but the Marlins have scored only two runs in those games, losing each by one run.
Willis enjoyed success against the Nationals last season, going 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts. He won the first three before the Nationals roughed him up for nine runs and nine hits in four innings of an 11-1 win Sept. 27 at Florida.
Willis is 8-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 11 starts against the Nationals/Expos franchise.
Florida (2-6) salvaged the finale of its three-game series with San Diego on Wednesday, posting its first home win with a 9-2 rout of the Padres. Mike Jacobs hit a three-run home run and Dan Uggla added a two-run shot for his first major league homer as the Marlins snapped a five-game losing streak.
“I’ve always thought that hitting is contagious,” said Uggla, a rookie second baseman. “You see a couple of guys ahead of you get a hit and you think, ‘This guy is pretty hittable.”’
Rookie Hanley Ramirez continued his fast start, going 2-for-3 with three runs and two walks. The 22-year-old shortstop has hit safely in all eight games and is batting .424 (14-for-33) with seven extra-base hits.
“I’m feeling so comfortable right now,” Ramirez said. “I’m just trying to keep it going.”
Another rookie, outfielder Josh Willingham, added two hits and two RBIs, and also is off to a quick start. Willingham is hitting .345 with two homers and 10 RBIs, and has four multihit games.
Nationals starter Ryan Drese (0-1, 2.25) will look to shut down Ramirez, Willingham and the Marlins. The right-hander struggled with his control Sunday at Houston, walking four and allowing four runs—one earned—and five hits in four innings of an 7-3 defeat to the Astros.