For the first time in more than a month, the Miami Marlins had both Brian Anderson and Joey Wendle in their starting lineup.
The Marlins immediately felt the impact.
The duo combined for four hits, three RBI and two runs scored as the Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 6-3 on Friday at Nationals Park to begin a four-game series.
“It’s good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, “to get them back.”
Anderson, who returned to the lineup on Monday after missing 28 games due to lower back spasms, started the Marlins’ first rally of the game. The third baseman waited patiently as he let Josiah Gray’s first three pitches of the third inning — a called strike and then two balls — go by without contention. On the fourth pitch, an elevated 94.1 mph fastball on the inner third of the strike zone, Anderson pounced.
The ball sailed into the left-field seats at Nationals Park for a solo home run, Anderson’s third of the season.
“Off the bat it felt good, but you never know,” Anderson said. “Especially this year you just never know if the ball is going to go out, so just had to put my head down and run, but I was able to get a good fastball over the plate. I was able to handle it.”
Miami (35-40) went on to score three runs in the inning, with a Wendle RBI single that scored Jon Berti and a Garrett Cooper RBI double that scored Wendle plating the other two runs.
Anderson also hit an RBI single in the sixth inning, the third of four consecutive hits to start that frame.
As for Wendle, he started at second base and hit second in the lineup on Friday after missing all 28 of the Marlins’ games in June due to a right hamstring injury. After a flyout to left field in his first at-bat of the night, Wendle’s third-inning single helped keep Miami’s rally alive and then he scored from first base on Cooper’s double.
“Got to run a lot,” Wendle said with a quick laugh.
Wendle also hit a line-drive single to left in the fifth and drew a four-pitch walk in the sixth.
Really his lone blemish came after that walk, when he got picked off at first base with the bases loaded, two outs and Cooper at the plate.
Wendle nearly beat the tag from Nationals first baseman Josh Bell, but the call stood after the Marlins challenged the play.
“It was a close play,” Wendle said. “It was a close play. I was able to get back. I thought I was safe, but that’s one of those things when you look at the game, you’re like ‘That can’t happen.’ Can’t get picked off at first with the bases loaded and your best hitter at-bat, but thankfully they bailed me out.”
Even with that miscue, his overall evaluation of the night remained the same:
“Excited to be back,” Wendle said pregame.
The timing of his return is fortuitous for the Marlins. With Jazz Chisholm Jr. landing on the injured list Wednesday with a right lower back strain, Wendle gives the Marlins a solid option to play at second base in addition to Berti and allows Anderson to get steady playing time at third base after bouncing between the hot corner, left field and right field this season.
Improvement from Trevor Rogers
On the mound, Trevor Rogers put together one of his best starts of a trying season by holding the Nationals (29-50) to one run on two hits and three walks with four strikeouts over five innings of work.
The only run Rogers allowed came in the fourth, when Juan Soto scored from third when Nelson Cruz hit into a double play with no outs.
Rogers’ best two outings of the season have now both come at Nationals Park. He held the Nationals to one run over six innings on May 28 the first time he started against Washington on the road this season. That was the only time Rogers pitched six full innings in a start this year. Rogers capped his outing by working around a pair of walks in the fifth by striking out Lane Thomas.
Since that May 28 game, Rogers pitched beyond the fifth inning just once. He had a 6.15 ERA with 44 strikeouts against 22 walks and a .296 batting average against in 45 1/3 innings of work in the 10 games between May 28 and Friday, with Miami losing seven of those 10 games.
His outing Friday ended after five innings again, but his performance was one to build upon.
Dylan Floro gave up a two-run home run to Keibert Ruiz in the sixth to cut Miami’s lead to 6-3 before the trio of Anthony Bass, Steven Okert and Tanner Scott held the Nationals scoreless for the final three innings to seal the win. Scott earned his eighth save in nine opportunities.
Rojas’ nifty baserunning
Shortstop Miguel Rojas’ smart moves on the basepaths played a key role in the Marlins manufacturing a run in the fifth.
He opened the frame with a leadoff double when he sent a Gray slider down the left-field line. He proceeded to steal third base with a fast break on a Gray curveball to start Berti’s at-bat two hitters later. Berti worked the count full before hitting a sacrifice fly to shallow right field on a ball that nearly dropped after Soto got a bad read before making a diving grab. Rojas tagged and scored from third.
Rojas left the game in the ninth after feeling “a shot” in his neck and shoulder following a near collision with Wendle in the seventh inning on a Luis Garcia infield hit.
Rojas said the move was precautionary, considering the team was up three runs and the fact that Friday was the first of 17 consecutive days the team is playing before the All-Star Break. He anticipates being back in the lineup Saturday.
Cooper keeps hitting
Cooper went 3 for 5 on Friday for his seventh three-hit game of the season on Friday. He hit a pair of doubles and a single.
With that, Cooper is now hitting .321 on the season.