Miami Marlins slug their way past Washington Nationals for third consecutive win

Jake Burger overall was pleased with his performance during his first month with the Miami Marlins. Ever since arriving in Miami following a trade with the Chicago White Sox, the third baseman has continued to hit the ball hard while getting on base more often, cutting down his strikeout rate and playing steady defense.

However, there is an obvious element of his game missing in his initial stretch with the Marlins that he’s hoping returns to form.

“Obviously,” Burger said, “I should have hit more than a couple of home runs in the month of August.”

Burger took that step forward in the power department on Saturday, smashing two of the Marlins’ four home runs in their 11-5 win over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park for a third consecutive win — matching Miami’s longest win streak of the second half of the season.

It marked Burger’s first multi-home run performance with the Marlins (69-67) and third of the season after having two such outings with the White Sox. Burger is up to 30 home runs on the season, including five in 28 games with the Marlins and three this series against the Nationals.

In those 28 games with Miami, Burger is hitting .315 (34 for 108) with 15 RBI, 16 runs scored, seven doubles and the five home runs. He was hitting just .214 this season in 88 games with the White Sox before the trade.

“It’s a balancing act,” Burger said. “Hopefully now that I’ve kind of proven to myself that I can hit for a higher average, now it’s putting it together with the power and kind of having that hybrid approach rather than just selling out for power.”

Burger pulled both of his home runs on Saturday against Nationals starter Trevor Williams. In the first inning, he sent an up-and-in four-seam fastball 423 feet to left to give Miami a 1-0 lead. In the third, he ambushed a first-pitch fastball over the heart of the plate for a 412 foot home run to left-center.

Jesus Sanchez and Bryan De La Cruz added to the home run barrage with each hitting a three-run shot — Sanchez’s in the third inning, De La Cruz’s in the fourth inning — for Miami’s third game of the season with at least four home runs.

Since Aug. 18, 30 of Miami’s 45 runs scored have come via home runs.

Sep 2, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez (3) hits a RBI single against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning at Nationals Park.

Luis Arraez heating up again

Marlins All-Star Luis Arraez on Saturday logged his first four-hit game since July 15 and his seventh overall of the season.

All four of Arraez’s hits were singles, with his base hits in the second and seventh inning driving in runs. He was on base in the fourth inning for De La Cruz’s home runs.

Arraez has multiple hits in all three games so far in this series against the Nationals (62-75) and is hitting 8 for 14 with two RBI and four runs scored in that stretch. His MLB-leading batting average has increased six points from .349 to .355 over these three games.

It’s the first time he has had multiple hits in three consecutive games since July 26-29.

The Marlins logged 18 hits overall against the Nationals on Saturday. De La Cruz also had a four-hit night in addition to Arraez. Sanchez had three hits.

Sep 2, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) throws to the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park.

How Johnny Cueto fared in his return

Right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto, making his first start since being placed on the injured list due to a viral infection, held the Nationals to three runs over five-plus innings of work.

Two of the three runs came via solo home runs — one from Dominic Smith in the fifth inning and one from Lane Thomas to lead off the sixth and end Cueto’s outing. The other came on a Riley Adams RBI double during a 26-pitch second inning.

Geoff Hartlieb followed with three shutout innings of relief to get Miami through the eighth inning before JT Chargois threw the ninth, holding the Nationals to two runs.

Chance for a sweep

The Marlins are now in position to potentially earn their first series sweep on this side of the All-Star Break. Miami’s series finale against Washington is scheduled for a 1:35 p.m. first pitch on Sunday, with the Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara (6-12, 4.23) going opposite the Nationals’ Josiah Gray (7-11, 4.05).