Game in a nutshell: What is it about the Marlins that brings out the worst in the Nationals? It's a mystery. So is Ricky Nolasco, who entered today's game with a 4.64 ERA but tossed a 2-hit shutout to again beat the Nats (he went the distance against them on Aug. 28, and if you go back to his previous start before that, the Nats now haven't scored a run in their last 22 innings against the right-hander. Miami's lineup, meanwhile, feasted on Edwin Jackson for six runs in 4 23 innings, though two of the runs scored when Bryce Harper lost a flyball in the sun. That's pretty much the kind of afternoon it was for the Nationals, who finished the season 9-9 against the Marlins but 77-45 against everyone else in the majors. They still closed out quite an impressive homestand, going 8-3 against the Cardinals, Cubs and Fish.
Hitting lowlight: Davey Johnson gave two of his regulars (Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond) the day off, but given the way this lineup produced throughout the homestand, you'd think they were still capable of putting together a couple of rallies. Not with Nolasco on the mound. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth until Michael Morse sent a solid single to left. He faced the minimum into the seventh, until Greg Dobbs committed an error at third base. And he carried a one-hitter into the eighth, until Giancarlo Stanton lost a flyball in the sun. That was the extent of the Nationals' offense in this game.
Pitching lowlight: Starting on his 29th birthday, Jackson gave up six runs over 4 23 innings. It wasn't entirely his fault -- the Marlins picked up three straight, two-out, groundball singles up the middle in the top of the second, and then Harper lost that ball in the sun -- but the right-hander didn't help his own cause, either. He walked Donovan Solano to lead off the fourth inning, setting the stage for a two-run rally. And he gave up a leadoff single (followed by a stolen base) in the fifth to set up another run. Jackson surely has had worse outings than this, but he's had much better ones, too.
Key stat: In 20 career games at Nationals Park, Stanton is hitting .392 with 11 homers, 20 RBI, a .456 on-base percentage, a .924 slugging percentage and a 1.380 OPS.
Up next: The Nationals hit the road for a six-game trip through New York and Atlanta. They'll open at Citi Field on Monday, with Gio Gonzalez facing Mets rookie right-hander Collin McHugh at 7:10 p.m.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others