After a month-long stretch facing opponents ahead of them in the National League wild-card race, the Miami Marlins (59-61) host the Arizona Diamondbacks (52-68), the club with the NL’s second-worst record, for a four-game set.
Miami has won two straight series as well as four of its last six games. The Marlins sit 4 1/2 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the final spot in the postseason.
Arizona is 4-6 over its past 10 contests, taking a series against the Colorado Rockies and splitting a four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month. The Diamondbacks arrived in South Florida early Thursday morning after splitting a doubleheader in extras late Wednesday in Cleveland.
The Marlins dropped two of three in Arizona prior to the All-Star break, avoiding the sweep by one strike when Marcell Ozuna blasted a two-run homer to straightaway center in the ninth of the July 8 matchup.
Right-hander Brad Penny opens the four-game set with his first home start in South Florida since July 28, 2004. In his return to the big leagues last Saturday, Penny picked up the win, allowing two runs on four hits over five innings. He walked four and struck out three. Rookie Chase Anderson has given up three runs or less in his last six starts, including one run permitted in each of the past three. On July 7, he allowed one run with eight strikeouts in six innings for the win over the Marlins.
Southpaw Brad Hand follows, hoping to get on track after things unraveled in the fifth during his previous start. He had a 2.28 ERA in 27 2/3 frames over four outings until giving up seven runs in 4 2/3, including a grand slam, against Cincinnati. Hand went 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a no decision against the Diamondbacks July 8. Since rejoining Arizona’s rotation July 18, righty Trevor Cahill is 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA. In his past two starts, he has gone seven innings and struck out seven batters.
Henderson Alvarez comes off the disabled list Saturday after missing two starts with right shoulder inflammation. Despite struggling with his command in his last start against the Washington Nationals on July 29, he went seven scoreless innings and ranks fifth in the NL in ERA. Arizona lefty Wade Miley has had mixed results since the All-Star break, going 2-2 with a 6.44 ERA. After surrendering a career-high 10 runs in 4 2/3 frames Aug. 5, he pitched six innings of three-run ball with eight strikeouts against Colorado on Aug. 10.
Although righty Tom Koehler earned the win in his last start, he allowed three two-out runs and eight hits over five-plus frames. Over his past four starts, Koehler failed to make it out the sixth in two of them. Arizona righty Josh Collmenter last pitched Aug. 6, taking the loss after giving up three runs on three hits in six innings. He took the no decision against Miami on July 9, cruising with seven innings and one run.
Here’s a look at the upcoming Diamondbacks-Marlins series…
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
CF Ender Inciarte (Diamondbacks): As the leadoff batter, Inciarte went 3 for 10 in the doubleheader — one of only two D-backs with a hit in both games. He has a hit in every game this month and 12 in a row. Over his past 10 contests, he is batting .333 with eight runs and an RBI.
3B Casey McGehee (Marlins): Since getting August 7 off because of a .120 slump, McGehee is 11 for 24 with four straight multi-hit games (five overall) during his current seven-game streak. He has three runs, four doubles, a homer and an RBI during this stretch, bumping his average up from .298 to .306.
OF David Peralta (Diamondbacks): Peralta went hitless in 10 at-bats during the doubleheader. In the first game, he recorded a golden sombrero with four strikeouts. Peralta stranded six runners in the nightcap. Since a home run in his final at-bat last Saturday, he is hitless in his past 15 at-bats.
CF Marcell Ozuna (Marlins): Manager Mike Redmond gave Ozuna Tuesday off until a pinch-hit appearance because of his recent struggles. He is hitless over his last 15 at-bats with two walks and eight strikeouts. Ozuna last drove in a run on Aug. 5 (eight games) and knocked a homer July 27 (16 games).
9: Players on the disabled list for the Diamondbacks, including All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt
.355: Average for D-backs shortstop Didi Gregorius in nine starts against the Marlins
102: Full counts for Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich this season, second most in the majors behind Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout
6: Runs over the three-game series in Arizona for the Marlins. They have scored more than that in all but one of their sets since — the final series of the first half in New York.
"We didn’t help ourselves defensively, gave them a few extra outs there. They took advantage of it. That’s what good teams do. We know that’s not us and we need to make those plays and help our pitchers. You start talking about playing meaningful games and you’ve got to make plays. The first two days we were able to do that. Tonight just wasn’t our night." — Manager Mike Redmond on Wednesday’s defensive struggles
"It was rough. I felt like I didn’t pick up the team. Had a few errors and I didn’t pick them up after that." — Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on his outing in the series finale
"We knew coming in that St. Louis — we were going to have our hands full with them, especially after last night being able to win a series in the first two games. Want to get greedy and try to go for the sweep. … We can’t take our foot off the gas. We’ve got to treat every game the same and hopefully continue to have a good homestand and put pressure on the teams ahead of us. All we can do is take care of our own business and see what happens." — Third baseman Casey McGehee on missing out on the sweep
PROMOTIONS & GIVEAWAYS
August 14 — Seniors Free Ticket Thursday presented by Wellmax Medical Centers; Marlins Cap Thursday Night group offer
August 15 — Fireworks Friday (postgame Fireworks Spectacular)
August 16 — Saturday Spectacular (postgame party and DJ at The Clevelander and East Plaza); Dominican Heritage Night; All You Can Eat Special; Fan Club Annual Autograph Session (pregame, pre-registration only)
August 17 — Billy the Marlin Kids Bag Tag; Back to School Day; Family Sunday (Snapshot Sunday and Radio Disney pregame; Diamond Dash postgame); Marlins Wives’ Back to School Drive; Billy the Marlin’s Birthday; Marlins Foundation Charity Partner Day; Pepsi 4-for-$54 Pack