WASHINGTON — Trevor Rogers knew the mistake he made as soon as the ball left Ryan Zimmerman’s bat in the third inning. He was trying to get a 96.7 mph fastball high and inside — one of his strengths. The ball leaked toward the heart of the plate. Zimmerman capitalized.
The ball soared through the air at Nationals Park and beyond the wall in center field, a 430-foot three-run home run.
“You just want to take back that one pitch,” Rogers said, “but that’s the game of baseball. Sometimes it’s decided by one pitch.”
With that, and with Max Scherzer putting together his most dominant performance of the season against a watered down Marlins lineup, Miami was on its way to a 3-1 loss against the Nationals at Nationals Park. The Marlins went 3-7 on their three-city, 10-game road trip, were swept by the Nationals and are now 11-16 on the season.
Miami went 1-3 against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park and won two of three against the Milwaukee Brewers before scoring just four runs in a three-game sweep by the Nationals.
“It was an OK trip,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s hard to say it was a good trip at all. We had a chance to come in here and win a series. We didn’t do that. We’ve got to get back and get it together.”
The final punch came on Sunday.
The Marlins’ lineup — one without shortstop Miguel Rojas (hamstring/hip tightness), first baseman Jesus Aguilar (rest) and outfielder Adam Duvall in addition to the four players on the injured list — mustered just five hits against Scherzer, who held the Marlins scoreless for eight innings before Isan Diaz hit a solo home run to lead off the ninth.
“I’m just trying to start something up,” said Diaz, who had two hits off Scherzer and also had a flyball that died at the warning track to open the game. “Just trying to produce for our team and spark something up.”
Scherzer, who threw 106 pitches to get 27 outs, retired the next three batters for his first complete game of the season. He struck out nine and didn’t allow a walk.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s home run was Rogers’ only blemish over five innings of work, during which he struck out six batters and held Washington (12-12) to four hits and three walks. His ERA through six starts is still just 1.91.
TAKEAWAYS FROM THE ROAD TRIP
— Injuries have taken their toll: The Marlins knew they would be without center fielder Starling Marte (fractured left rib) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (left hamstring strain) this road trip. Adding third baseman Brian Anderson (left oblique strain) and middle infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. (left hamstring strain) to that group was not ideal. As a result, Jon Berti has started every game at third base, Jose Devers and Diaz were added to the active roster for infield depth and the outfield has gone through its share of mixing and matching.
Mattingly said postgame Sunday he is optimistic Anderson will be ready to return Tuesday when the Marlins play the Arizona Diamondbacks to start a six-game homestand at loanDepot park.
— Jesus Aguilar has found his power at the plate: Aguilar, who did not play Sunday, had a .300 batting average on the road trip (9 for 30) with six home runs, seven walks, 12 RBI and eight runs scored.
— Adam Duvall and Garrett Cooper, meanwhile, have struggled: Duvall went 3 for 31 at the plate on the road trip (.097 batting average) with 15 strikeouts, one walk, one run and no extra-base hits or RBI. Cooper went 5 for 35 (.143) with 11 strikeouts. Both of his extra-base hits on the trip — a double and home run — came in the same game (Miami’s 8-0 win against the Brewers on Monday).
— The Marlins got their first taste of what Jose Devers can offer: Devers, the 21-year-old middle infielder and the No. 8 prospect in the Marlins’ organization according to MLB Pipeline, was added to the active roster at the start of the road trip and made his MLB debut on April 24 against the Giants. He recorded his first hit on Sunday, a groundball back to the pitcher’s mound against Scherzer with two outs in the fifth. His defense has been solid and he put together quality at-bats considering he had not played above the Class A Advanced level of the minor leagues before the call-up.
“His at-bats are getting better and better,” Mattingly said. “This kid’s gonna be good.”
— Key bullpen arms are showing improvement: After a slow start to the season, the Marlins’ bullpen has begun to turn things around. Through Sunday’s early games, Marlins relievers rank third in the league with an average of 1.08 walks and hits allowed per inning pitched and their 3.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks sixth in the league.
Anthony Bass’ run of scoreless outings is now at eight consecutive appearances, including three shutout innings on this road trip. Zack Pop has thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings over his last four appearances and has nine strikeouts against just one walk in that span. Dylan Floro threw four scoreless innings with four strikeouts on this road trip and has now thrown six consecutive scoreless innings since giving up a walk-off hit to the Atlanta Braves on April 15. Adam Cimber has four consecutive scoreless outings since giving up three earned runs on April 23 at the Giants.
Another pitcher who has impressed: Jordan Holloway, who threw five scoreless innings on the road trip and has given up just two hits and one walk in seven innings overall this season.