The Nationals dropped a 9-7 decision to the Fish last night in Miami, and the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga bemoans a minor league workforce at major league prices.

The Nationals fielded a makeshift lineup Frank Robinson designed to give some of his regulars a two-day break with Thursday’s scheduled off day. Most of the fans in the tiny crowd at Dolphin Stadium surely couldn’t have named the Washington starters.

Henry Mateo, a utility man called up from the minors Tuesday, played for Ryan Zimmerman at third, his first major league appearance at the position, and he hit his first big league homer. Bernie Castro, a career minor leaguer, subbed for Jose Vidro at second. Brandon Harper, a 30-year-old who is getting his first chance in the majors after spending eight seasons in the minors, was the catcher in place of Brian Schneider, who is still overcoming a bruised toe. Daryle Ward, with one start and just 18 total innings at first base this season, replaced Nick Johnson there, and hit a three-run homer in the ninth, trimming the deficit.

No disrespect to Harper (above), but considering his place on the Nats’ depth chart was previously blocked by Robert Fick and Matthew LeCroy, well, that really says it all.