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Key mistakes loom large in Nationals' 4-3 loss to Miami Marlins

Key mistakes loom large in Nationals' 4-3 loss to Miami Marlins

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Monday night at Marlins Park.

How it happened: There have been plenty of times this season that Trea Turner has looked like a natural in center field, the position he converted to just over two months ago at Triple-A. There have also been times he has looked like a guy learning on the fly in a spot he's not all that comfortable playing.

In the Nats' 4-3 loss to the Marlins on Monday night, Turner misplayed a routine line drive hit his way in the sixth inning that led to the tying run for Miami. They then took the lead later in the inning and never looked back.

Turner's mistake came on a ball hit by Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich. He roped a slicing line drive hit just to Turner's right. The Nats rookie stepped towards the infield first, only to realize it was hit over his head. He retreated, but could only get a glove on the ball that rolled to the warning track and resulted in an RBI double.

Turner also misplayed a ball off the wall in the third inning by Marcell Ozuna by over-running it. That turned a double into a triple, but didn't end up hurting the Nats.

Dietrich's hit tied the game before Ichiro Suzuki's groundball to second scored Justin Bour to make it 4-3 Marlins in the sixth. Both runs were brought in against Nats pitcher Blake Treinen, but charged to Mat Latos, who was relieved after giving up two hits and a walk.

Rookie A.J. Cole started the game, but only made it four innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. One of those scores was a 466-foot homer hit by Giancarlo Stanton in the second inning. The other was on a Christian Yelich RBI double in the third.

The Nats got all their runs on one swing, a three-run homer by Danny Espinosa in the fifth inning. That gave them some much-needed life against Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen, who began his start with four scoreless frames. 

The Nats had another good chance in the ninth inning when Wilson Ramos led off with a double. He was replaced by Michael Taylor at second, but Taylor quickly got thrown out trying to take third on a Ryan Zimmerman infield grounder. It was an untimely mistake by Taylor, who was in scoring position representing the tying run.

The Nationals have lost three straight and four of their last six overall. The Marlins have won three of their last five vs. the Nats and evened up the season series at 7-7.

What it means: The Nats dropped to 88-62 on the season, but still saw their magic number fall by one thanks to the Mets' loss to the Braves. It is now at five. They are eight games up on New York.

Espinosa hits No. 22: Man, did Espinosa need this one. The Nats shortstop entered Monday night with just one hit across 20 at-bats in his previous seven games. It was his 22nd homer of the season, which established a new career-high. It is also one more than what he hit in 2014 and 2015 combined. Espinosa ranks fifth among MLB shortstops in homers and third in the NL. 

Cole so-so again: Cole wasn't great by any measure, but he still managed four innings of two-run ball. That's pretty much what we can expect from the rookie right-hander these days. He won't wow you and he's very unlikely to go deep into his start, but he can get you to the middle innings without it being a blowout. The Nats will take that at this point, considering what they've seen from other spot starters in recent months.

Cole now has a 4.68 ERA through six starts for the Nationals. Over his last three, he's given up nine earned runs in 14 innings of work. Cole is likely to make a few more starts before this season is over, as long as Stephen Strasburg is out.

Up next: The Nats and Marlins continue their series with another 7:10 p.m. start on Tuesday night. That one will pit two of the best starters in the NL up against each other in Tanner Roark (15-8, 2.75) and Marlins ace Jose Fernandez (15-8, 2.99).

[RELATED: Harper breaks hitless streak vs. Braves; will Nats clinch NL East soon?]

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Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

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USA Today Sports

Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

Sure, the Nationals and Orioles didn't make the playoffs, but that didn't stop a "Battle of the Beltways" moment from breaking out during NLCS Game 1.

Ex-National Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Brewers. In the second inning, ex-Oriole Manny Machado stepped to the plate for the Dodgers.

Here's what happened next:

If you squint, you can imagine the ball flying into the Nationals Park bullpen or the Camden Yards bleachers. 

And in case you're wondering, we have indeed entered the Twilight Zone. 

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Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

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USA Today Sports

Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

The Washington Nationals picked up righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Miami in their first offseason move to rebuild the bullpen.

The Nationals said Wednesday that they gave the Marlins international slot value in the deal.

The hard-throwing Barraclough went 1-6 with 4.20 ERA and 10 saves in 17 chances, with 61 appearances this year. He allowed one hit in 36 at-bats in June, when he was chosen NL reliever of the month, but struggled with his command the rest of the season.

Barraclough's ERA ballooned to 10.24 over his final 24 games and he lost the Marlins closer's job.

He has a career ERA of 3.21 with 279 strikeouts and 134 walks in 218 2/3 innings over four seasons, all with Miami.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo is in need of relievers after jettisoning Shawn Kelley and Brandon Kintzler late this season.

The deal helps the Marlins in their pursuit of top international free-agent Victor Victor Mesa, a Cuban outfielder who tried out for major league scouts at Marlins Park last week.

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