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Through Five: Nats 6, Marlins 3

Midway through the fifth, the Nationals lead the Marlins, 6-3. It still has the feel of a close game, somehow -- especially with Florida starter Josh Johnson (the NL ERA leader, circa 1:05 p.m.) settling down and Scott Olsen always capable of a lousy inning. Or more.

Let's start with how the Nationals scored. During the prior nine games this year, the Nationals made a habit of hitting well until the very moment when continued hitting would have driven in runs. To wit: Entering today, the Nats had pounded out 10 or more hits in six of nine games. They ranked third in the NL with a .280 batting average. But they ranked 11th in runs. It was all attributable to horrid situational hitting.

So here in the first inning was a perfect chance to remedy that.

The first four members of the lineup all reached. By the time Austin Kearns came to bat, the bases were loaded with one out. The Nats already led, 1-0.

Then, that lead grew in the fastest way possible. Kearns pulled a high and fat 1-2 pitch from Johnson several rows into the left field stands, resulting in his second career grand slam. That inning, Washington scored five runs on four hits -- yes, efficiency. The Nats left nobody on base.

Granted a 5-0 lead, Olsen didn't exactly have a textbook response, though. His second inning was rocky. The Marlins put together a single. A Ronny Paulino two-run homer. A double. Olsen nearly walked the pitcher, but recovered to escape with only two runs allowed. And since then, he's survived well enough. His velocity, always worth watching, looking worryingly nonexistent in the early going (mostly around 86 or 87), but in the third, it rose appreciably. During an at bat with Jorge Cantu, he hit 90 twice. Last game, if you'll recall, Olsen didn't hit 90 until the third inning either.

Florida scored its latest run in the top of the fifth, and it was unearned. With runners on first and third with two outs, Cantu popped to first. Should have been an easy inning-ender. But Nick Johnson lost the ball in the sun (or at least that's the logical conclusion), and couldn't find the ball until it rested on the infield. Olsen ended the inning one batter later.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 18, 2009; 2:42 PM ET
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Next: Bernadina Leaves With Injury [UPDATE]


Get Shell & Hinckley ready - Olsen's moving toward 100 pitches.

Posted by: BinM | April 18, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Talking to myself (nothing new there) - Nice game from Olsen 7IP, 6H, 2ER, 5K. Tha'll shorten the bullpen a bit.

Posted by: BinM | April 18, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

HELL! Let him hang in there its good for his constitution, stop babying these guys it use to be a source of pride to complete a game, now its a rarity like seeing Haley's comet. Nat need to get a couple of runs.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 18, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Where are the Bonifacio Boosters? Why aren't they here decrying the inequity of the trade? After all, Emilio has made Olsen look pretty shoddy, what with his sharply hit grounders to our inept-fielding third baseman....

Go Zimm. Go Nats. Go to the dugout, Boni.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | April 18, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

it would've been nice to hold that lead yesterday, it'd be (most likely) a 3 game winning streak!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 18, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Bernidina?!?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | April 18, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I've got no TV or radio. What happened to Bernadina?

Posted by: ramgut | April 18, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

He made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Uggla. He came down awkwardly on his right leg and appeared to twist his ankle or perhaps hyper-extend his knee. He was helped off the field and was walking very gingerly. It looks like trip to the DL.


Posted by: db423 | April 18, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse has the video of Bernie's catch - go to the video section of GameDay:

Posted by: Barney001 | April 18, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I am watching Gameday on my cell phone and it is very frustrating. Don't blow it Joel!

Posted by: ramgut | April 18, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Not again!!! No!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: ramgut | April 18, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

this is insane... hellnrahan did it agin

Posted by: HotNats | April 18, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

err again, that is

Posted by: HotNats | April 18, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

uh, what happened? the last time i checked it was 6-3. stop blowing it hanrahan!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 18, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

When is Manny going to figure out Hanrahan doesn't belong in the majors - much less a closer.

Posted by: LoveThoseNats | April 18, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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