Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ian Desmond eludes Hanley Ramirez after tagging him out in the fourth.
But the franchise that generally has stood directly in the Nats' way over the years hails from Florida and has established with incredible authority its ability to swat away these guys like they have no business sharing a ballpark with them.
Yes, the Marlins of all teams are the Nationals' biggest nemesis. After tonight's rain-delayed, 5-0 victory to complete a three-game sweep, Florida merely extended its run of dominance over its division rivals.
These two teams have played 47 times over the last three seasons. The Nats' record in those games: 13-34.
"Really?" Livan Hernandez responded in awe when informed of those lopsided results. "I don't know that."
He does now.
"Always in baseball, you've got somebody [who owns you]," Hernandez said. "Like for me, Todd Helton hits like .700."
(For the record, Helton's career average against Livo is a mere .465 (33-for-71), his OPS a robust 1.259.)
There's no getting around this, though. The Marlins own the Nationals. The run began in 2008, when Florida stunningly won 14 of 17 matchups, and has continued the last two seasons (12-6 in 2009, now 8-4 this year).
"Lately, they've gotten the best of us," manager Jim Riggleman said. "They're playing good baseball. They're playing good. They're pitching good."
Hanley Ramirez (lifetime .363 average, 24 homers, 63 RBI in 82 head-to-head games) has always been the Nats' biggest individual nemesis, but Mike Stanton is making a strong push to usurp that title from his All-Star teammate. The 20-year-old right fielder demolished Washington pitching in this series, crushing two homers, three doubles, driving in six runs and at one point reaching base in 10 of 11 plate appearances.
"He is some kind of good-looking player," Riggleman said.
Get used to him, because he's going to be terrorizing Nationals pitchers for years to come.
If the Nats have any visions of ever climbing out of the basement in their division, they're going to have to figure out a way to stifle Stanton and Ramirez. And they're going to have to find a way to start beating a Marlins club that right now treats the Nationals like roadkill.