Postgame analysis of the Nats' 6-4 loss to the Miami Marlins in the 2016 home opener at Nationals Park:
How it happened: The Nationals returned home on Thursday on a damp day in Washington and found no trouble getting on base through a rain delay-interrupted marathon game against Miami. It was getting runners home that proved the problem, as the Nats dropped their first game of the season 6-4 to the NL East rival Marlins. Tanner Roark gave up three earned runs before the delay and another unearned score afterwards to stumble out of the gate in his first start of 2016. The Nationals moved to 2-1 with another off-day awaiting them ahead of this weekend.
What it means: The Nationals aren't going to go 162-0. That, and the Marlins are not an easy matchup when they're healthy. Miami's fully stocked lineup showed what it was capable of on Thursday despite Dee Gordon going hitless and Giancarlo Stanton homerless. Gordon was the only position player for the Marlins who didn't land a hit and five of their players had two. When healthy the Marlins' lineup has depth, balance, speed and power. And as long as their stars are in there, they could surprise some people.
Blown chances: The Nationals were able to get on base in this one with six hits and eight walks against a Marlins pitching staff that at times couldn't throw strikes. But the Nationals went 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts with runners in scoring position. The Marlins, on the other hand, were 5-for-11 and feasted primarily off singles.
Roark has shaky, rain-interruped debut: Roark may have pitched well this spring, but that did not carry over in his first outing of the 2016 season. Roark immediately found trouble in the first inning, as the Marlins struck for three runs. Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Stanton and Martin Prado combined for four consecutive singles, as Prado's brought in two runners. J.T. Realmuto then singled two batters later to plate the third run. Roark threw 54 pitches before the rain delay, but went back out there to continue his start after not pitching for over 90 minutes. He got through two more innings, allowing one unearned run in the third. It will be interesting to hear why Baker decided to keep Roark in the game after the delay. Roark, by the way, allowed nine hits and all of them were singles. He also walked three, though.
Harper homers again: Stanton may not have homered, but Bryce Harper did. The reigning MVP smacked his second homer of the season, a towering shot to right field off Marlins right-hander Bryan Morris. It was Harper's 99th career home run, which puts him one away from 100. It looks like he will get there faster than Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey, Jr. all did. Pujols was the fastest of the three and is the eighth-fastest all-time to reach the mark. Pujols got there at 23 years and 185 days old. Harper is 23 years and 174 days old. Harper has two homers through three games this season, which is a pretty decent pace. He's already making me regret my prediction that he'll hit 37 this year.
Werth still struggling: Though he did notch his second walk of the season, Werth remains hitless through 11 at-bats after three games, as he continues to labor at the plate, particularly in big spots. Werth went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Thursday with RISP. He is 0-for-6 with three strikeouts with RISP on the season. Werth hit sixth in the first two games and fifth in this one. Getting runners on ahead of him is the plan, but he hasn't been holding up his end of the bargain. Werth was taken out for Chris Heisey in the top of the eighth as a defensive replacement.
Murphy, Espinosa continue to impress: The middle of the Nationals' infield has been quite the combo on offense so far through three games. Murphy had another solid day highlighted by a three-RBI triple in the first inning. He went 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk and three RBI in the loss. Murphy already has a homer, a triple, a double, five RBI and three walks in three games with the Nats. Danny Espinosa is 3-for-8 (.375) with with a double and three walks through three games. Not bad for a guy who hit .139 in spring training and entered the season with some questioning his security as the starting shortstop.
Taylor's spring has not carried over: Speaking of spring training numbers not translating, Michael Taylor is still searching for his first hit after three games. The fill-in leadoff hitter with Ben Revere out, Taylor is 0-for-10 this season. He reached base in the eighth inning on Thursday, but only due to a fielder's choice. One has to wonder how long Dusty Baker will keep Taylor hitting leadoff if he continues to struggle like this.
Up next: Another off-day. The Nationals and Marlins then continue their series with a 4:05 p.m. start on Saturday with Joe Ross set to pitch for the Nats and RHP Tom Koehler lined up to pitch for Miami.