A real marlin, the fish with the long protruding structure on the end of its nose, is prey. It is hunted by man and shark for sport or sustenance. The baseball playing Marlins however have never been prey to the Washington Nationals. In fact it has worked out the other way around so often that it feels like some type of curse exists.
This curse is so bad that it has to be imagined that if a person wearing Nationals gear were sport fishing in South Florida and happened to hook a Marlin not only would they fail to land that fish, but they would be pulled over the side of the boat and to the depth of Jeff Conine’s locker.
The Washington Nationals .383 winning percentage against the Marlins is far and away their worst against any franchise they have played more than six times. It is so bad that in a three game series in 2009 the Nationals had a lead heading into the ninth inning in all three games only to blow them all. Any player that has put on a Marlins uniform has done damage against the Nationals even if they couldn’t against anyone else.
In 2011 John Buck hit .227/.316/.367 a fairly mediocre and below average hitter, but against the Nationals Buck hit .250/.300/.464. It isn’t that much better than his overall batting line except in one area. He hit for more power against the Nationals than he did the rest of the league, and he isn’t the first Marlin that has stepped to the plate with below average looking numbers only to club heart breaking homer after heart breaking homer.
Take for example the season that Logan Morrison is having, .241/.338/.358. Once again it is a batter that doesn’t appear to be much of a power threat, but 2 of his 3 homers on the year have come against the Nationals and both of them have tied the game. It is altogether disheartening to see the entire rest of the league figure out how to get a batter out only to watch them manhandle your team, and that is the exact situation the Nationals face with the Marlins.
And they don’t even have to be manhandled by a player for the loses to pile up. You are going to have to take my word on this one as baseball-reference has decided it doesn’t want to work for me this morning, but Chris Volstad when he was a Marlin had a terrible ERA against the Nationals, but overall a good record. Take for example the infamous Nyjer Morgan game.
Unlike most Nationals loses to the Marlins where the Nationals are winning for most of the game only to watch their lead slip away in the late innings the Marlins came out swinging in this one. The Nationals pitcher on that day was former Marlins Scott Olsen who gave up 9 runs in the brief 1 2/3 innings he lasted. Volstad wasn’t exactly steady himself and benefited from quite a bit of good luck as the Nationals were able to score 6 runs of their own off of Volstad.
The highlight of this game came when Volstad threw behind the back of Nyjer Morgan who then charged the mound to get blindsided and clotheslined by Gaby Sanchez. It wasn’t exactly the result that Nyjer was looking for. Of course the Nationals have rarely gotten things to go their way against the Marlins.
Nothing sums up the Nationals losing history against the Marlins more than the previously mentioned three game losing streak in 2009. Here is how the Nationals blew it in the ninth in all three games; game 1 Cody Ross solo homer ties; game 2 (3 run lead this time) Amezaga single with one out, wild pitch, Gload single scores Amezaga, Hermida game tying homer; game 3 walk to Bonafacio, Baker double ties the game, Hanley strikeout, Gload intentionally walked, Uggla strikeout, Hermida walked (bases loaded), Cody Ross bases clearing double, Marlins lead by 3.
That nicely sums up the history of the Nationals vs. the Marlins and why games against them have always felt like sticking nails in our eyelids while sitting on hot coals. Anytime the Nationals are able to hang onto any lead they get it has to be consided a miracle.