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To get an idea of ​​how Saturday afternoon’s Washington Nationals went, look at Trevor Williams’ pitching line: four innings, 12 hits, nine runs (eight of them earned), and four home runs in 82 pitches. The right-hander hit out three shots and didn’t walk, but that caused the Miami Marlins to continue passing him. And so the Nationals lost 11-5 and lost only 2-10 to the Marlins this season.

“I just put us in a hole that was too deep and we couldn’t get out,” Williams said. “The triple home runs are definite rally killers. So it’s too hard for us to get out of there if we give it up so early.”

Williams’ fastball averaged 88.4 mph, leaving him little room for error. In the first inning, he threw one up and inside to Jake Burger, and Burger threw it to the left. In the third round, he threw a middle-middle to Burger – almost straight into the pipe – and the third baseman smashed his second solo shot.

One batter later, Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit a pop fly to the left field line that shortstop CJ Abrams ran over and then continued the whistle. The next hitter, Bryan De La Cruz, hit a single to the right. Jesús Sánchez, the hitter after, hit a three-run home run down the middle, tearing the wheels off in the process. And when De La Cruz hit another three-run throw in the fourth, Williams had conceded 33 homers this season, the most in the National League. Lance Lynn, who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Chicago White Sox in late July, is the MLB leader at 37.

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“I think we pitched the first burger,” Williams said. “On the second fall, we thought he was spinning after hitting a home run, but that wasn’t the case. The Sánchez game, I thought we did well; I guess he was just paying attention [over the plate]. And De La Cruz’s [on a low sinker], that’s really the only one I’ve given him that homer at. But otherwise it will happen. Unfortunately it is difficult to place us early.”

After pitching 89⅔ innings for the New York Mets last season, Williams made a big jump to 134⅔ (and counting). He hadn’t passed the 100 mark since he was a full-time starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019. In 2022, he was a swing pitcher with New York, making nine starts and 21 assists. But when he signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Nationals, it was partly because they had promised a rotation spot.

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The problem now is that it would be difficult to knock him out — or even narrow down his innings in any meaningful way. On that front, MacKenzie Gore and Jake Irvin are Washington’s top priorities. Gore, 24, is close to doubling his innings total starting in 2022 after missing half last year with an elbow problem. Irvin, a 26-year-old rookie, topped last season’s minor league innings total when he scored five in a loss to the Marlins (69-67) on Friday. Last but not least, Williams, 31, is said to be a reliable innings eater – and his last two games have been solid. He just seems to run out of breath.

“That’s the most he’s pitched in a long time. His innings are up there,” said manager Dave Martinez. “I’m a little worried about him too. We gave him a little breather there and he came back to pitching and started pitching well. But that’s obviously a lot for him, so we have to try to manage that to some degree. … Hopefully we can recover when he starts again. …But I definitely don’t want to send him home injured. I want him to be ready to go again next year.”

With another loss to the Marlins, who ended with 18 hits, Washington (62-75) has lost four in a row and six of seven. Miami spent the weekend boosting its chances of a National League wildcard berth. Before the Nationals were buried, Riley Adams hit an RBI double in the second inning. In the fifth set, Dominic Smith, who dropped to eighth in the batting order on his .675 OPS, hit a solo shot from Johnny Cueto. He added an RBI double in the ninth round as the Nationals rallied for two runs.

Earlier, in the sixth round, Lane Thomas hit his team-leading 22nd home run. And in the seventh round, the club’s rookie catcher, Drew Millas, shot a single through the left flank. It was his first major league hit, a fact recognized by home crowds as well. His cheers changed the afternoon’s soundtrack. The ball was thrown into Washington’s dugout for safekeeping, all just a brief respite from what had happened before.

“To take it from my old college teammate down there [at third]”Burger, just pushing it past him, that was pretty cool,” Millas said with a big smile on his face. “I was hoping he wouldn’t make it. … Luckily it came through. It was a great, great moment.”

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