04/06/09 10:14 PM ET
Nationals can't stop Marlins in loss
Lannan struggles in opener, leaving offense to chip away
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Lannan looked like the same pitcher who had problems with the Blue Jays last Thursday. In that game, Lannan gave up seven runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. On Monday, he lasted three innings and gave up six runs on six hits. It didn't help that Lannan was behind in the count throughout the game.
"I didn't execute pitches," Lannan said. "When you fall behind in the count, that's what is going to happen. You can't work with much when the count is 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 to everybody, so I had to throw fastballs."
Pitching coach Randy St. Claire looked at video of Monday's game and noticed that Lannan was having mechanical issues on the mound.
"He was just behind everybody -- you can't pitch like that," St. Claire said. "When you work behind, the hitters become patient. You have to make better pitches.
"I think he is pulling off [the mound] a little bit. He is trying to do too much. He is leaving balls over the plate and cutting off his breaking balls. I think it's an adjustment of staying aggressive and not trying to do too much."
It didn't take long for the Marlins to take the lead. In the first inning, Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single. John Baker followed and hit a line drive to left field. It looked like a catchable ball, but it went past Adam Dunn for an RBI double.
"I didn't know the ball was hit as good as it was hit, and the wind was blowing out," Dunn said. "I froze and decided not to charge it. That was not the right move."
Baker would later score on an groundout by Jorge Cantu.
By the third inning, the Marlins had a 6-0 lead. Cantu highlighted the scoring with a two-run homer off Lannan. Asked if there was cause for concern regarding Lannan, Acta said, "Not at all. It's just the first game of the season. He pitched behind all day. He threw five first-pitch strikes out of 21 hitters he faced. The Marlins are a good hitting ballclub. He pitched behind and got hurt."
The Nationals were on the scoreboard the following inning, thanks to RBI hits by Dunn and Austin Kearns. But Bonifacio, whom the Nationals traded to Florida last November for outfielder Josh Willingham and left-hander Scott Olsen, came back to haunt them by hitting an two-run inside-the-park homer against reliever Julian Tavarez.
Bonifacio hit the ball to deep center field. Lastings Milledge, who was playing shallow because the scouting reports told him to do so, went back on the ball and fell to the ground as the ball rolled close to the wall. Milledge didn't realize how quick Bonifacio was. Milledge thought Bonifacio would get no more than a triple.
"He kind of got a hold of one -- I couldn't make a play on it," Milledge said. "I did the best I could to get the ball in. I thought he was fast, but I didn't know he was that fast to get an inside-the-park home run. I thought I got the ball in pretty quick and [second baseman] Ronnie [Belliard] made a good throw."
Bonifacio ended up going 4-for-5 in the game and said he doesn't have any ill feelings toward the Nationals.
"Right now, I play for the Marlins -- I try to do my best for my team," Bonifacio said.
Said Acta about Bonifacio's performance: "Good for him. He deserves a lot, because he is not only a great kid, but he also works hard. He has a lot of abilities."
The Nationals made the game interesting in the sixth inning, when Dunn hit a three-run homer off starter Ricky Nolasco to make it an 8-5 game. If there were any positives in this game to Dunn, it was the way the Nationals battled back offensively.
"I don't really remember facing Nolasco, but he has some really good stuff -- I think we battled him," Dunn said. "When you score five runs off a guy like that, It's pretty good I think."
But Hanley Ramirez put the game away by hitting a grand slam off reliever Steven Shell in the bottom of the inning.
"Opening Day is over with. Now let's concentrate on winning the series. You will see a different team tomorrow," Dunn said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.