Big fifth inning sparks Nationals in 11-4 victory for Marlins fifth loss in a row

The Marlins lost just twice against the Washington Nationals all of last season.

It’s a safe bet the Marlins aren’t going to have that same success in 2024 as Washington beat the Marlins, 11-4, on Saturday.

After going 2-11 against the Marlins last year, the Nationals are 2-0 against Miami this season. The teams will play again Sunday, and the series ends Monday night.

Miami led 1-0 early on Saturday, but the Marlins were doomed by Washington’s tie-breaking five-run fifth inning that featured Jesse Winker’s grand slam off of Edward Cabrera.

The Marlins (6-22) have now lost five games in a row, and they have the worst record in the National League.

This is the Marlins’ ninth series this year, and the team has yet to win any of those sets. They won’t win this one, either, as the best they could do at this point is a split.

The Marlins’ struggles can be quickly explained by what they are lacking –elite/high-priced talent and good health.

Miami’s payroll of $98 million is the third lowest in the majors. Only the Pirates and A’s have lower payrolls, and neither squad has a winning record.

As for health, the Marlins have had six starting pitchers go on the injured list this year, including 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara and Eury Perez, both of whom are out for the year.

Braxton Garrett, Jesus Luzardo, Cabrera and A.J. Puk have also spent time on the injured list.

Of those six pitchers, only Cabrera is active at the moment, and Puk has been ticketed for the bullpen once he returns.

Marlins manager Skip Schumaker, however, isn’t buying any of that, at least according to his post-game comments on Saturday.

He was particularly upset with three Marlins errors and other issues such as a passed ball, throwing to the wrong base and allowing a double steal.

“This is not what we envisioned coming out of spring,” Schumaker said. “We’ve had some injuries, but a lot of teams have injuries.

“We haven’t played clean baseball, and today was probably the sloppiest of all of them.

“I could get over the first couple of weeks — tough losses, tough breaks, whatever, walk-offs … those things happen.

“But when you play sloppy baseball … “

Things started out well for the Marlins, who opened the scoring in the first inning, loading the bases with one out on singles by Luis Arraez and Josh Bell and a walk drawn by Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Nationals pitcher Mitchell Parker then threw high for a run-scoring wild pitch. The Marlins might have done more damage, but Avisail Garcia struck out on three pitches – all swinging – and Emmanuel Rivera’s drive was caught by right fielder Eddie Rosario.

Washington tied the score in the third. With one out, Jacob Young produced an infield single on what was a essentially a swinging bunt to third. Young stole second – his 20th consecutive steal dating to last year. He advanced to third on CJ Abrams’ groundout. Young then scored on a passed ball charged to catcher Christian Bethancourt.

The Nationals broke the game open in the fifth as Trey Lipscomb singled, and Rosario walked to start the rally. After a double steal, Rosario scored on a fielder’s choice as Marlins first baseman Rivera tried to throw him out at the plate.

After a walk to Abrams, Winker slugged a 2-1 hanging curveball over the fence in right. The exit velocity on that grand slam was 104.5.

That ended the day for Cabrera (1-1), who lasted just 4 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits, two walks, six runs, five earned.

In the crucial at-bat by Winker, Cabrera threw him no fastballs, and that continues a trend.

Entering Saturday, Cabrera was throwing his changeup most often at 39.6 percent. His curve was second (26.2) and then his fastball (17.1).

Last year, he threw his fastball as his second pitch (27.6 percent).

With Cabrera out of the game, Washington got to the Marlins bullpen for four runs, including solo homers by Keibert Ruiz and Nick Senzel.

Trailing 11-1, the Marlins scored three runs in a ninth-inning rally that included Otto Lopez’s first MLB homer.

Still, it wasn’t enough, and that brief surge didn’t seem to make Schumaker feel much better about yet another loss on the ledger.

“The record is the record,” Schumaker said in summation. “We have to figure this out quick.”