Another series, another chance to gain ground in the National League Wild Card race.
After opening their homestand with a series victory over the Washington Nationals, the Miami Marlins (54-57) dropped three of four to the Cincinnati Reds. They scored just eight runs over four games.
Miami begins a six-game roadtrip in Pittsburgh where the Pirates (59-52) sit a half game back of the second Wild Card spot. The Marlins are 5 1/2 behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Back in June, Pittsburgh took two of three in South Florida.
The last time the Marlins went on the road, they achieved their best seven-game trip in franchise history. They captured a four-game set in Atlanta before sweeping the Houston Astros.
Since rejoining the rotation in early July, southpaw Brad Hand is 2-2 with a 2.95 ERA over six starts. He has gone into the seventh in each of his last three, permitting five runs on 14 hits. In a loss to the Washington Nationals, he had retired 21 of 24 until consecutive hits. Two inherited runners would later score. Righty Charlie Morton has allowed four-or-more runs in back-to-back starts for the first time since May 2012. He last won six starts ago. He beat the Marlins on June 14 when he pitched seven innings of two-run ball.
Things imploded for both right-hander Tom Koehler and the Marlins in the eighth inning of his last start. He needed just 83 pitches entering the frame, but a pair of errors and a controversial overturned call led to him being charged for two runs (neither earned). Righty Jeff Locke has surrendered five homers in his past two starts, as many as his first nine. During this stretch, he has given up 12 runs (10 earned) in 12 innings. In June, he went a then-career-high eight innings against Miami.
Right-hander Jarred Cosart closes the series against righty Edinson Volquez. In his Marlins debut, Cosart allowed four runs (three inherited scored) over 5 1/3 innings when he couldn’t turn a double play. Prior to joining the Marlins, he went 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 20 starts with the Astros. Volquez, winless since the All-Star break, gave up four runs (three earned) over 5 2/3 frames in his last outing. He has not pitched six innings over his past three starts.
Here’s a look at the upcoming Marlins-Pirates series …
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
SS Adeiny Hechavarria (Marlins): Since returning from the disabled list July 6, he has eight multi-hit games in 24 outings. Hechavarria has 30 on the season, third most in the NL among shortstops. He went 4 for 12 with a run, a double and a triple against the Cincinnati Reds.
OF Josh Harrison (Pirates): To close out the final three games in Arizona, Harrison went 7 for 14 with six runs and a homer. Since going hitless in four at-bats on July 26, he has at least one knock in the past eight, seeing his average jump from .286 to .304. Harrison is batting .386 with five homers and seven RBI in his past 10 contests.
3B Casey McGehee (Marlins): Over his last 10 games, McGehee is batting .182 with just two runs, two RBI and one multi-hit game. He has not driven in a run in seven games, the second such stretch in the past month. His average has dropped from .322 on July 20 to .302 — the lowest since June 14.
OF Travis Snider (Pirates): Snider collected just one hit with two RBI in 11 at-bats during his three starts in Arizona. He has struck out in four straight games. Prior to the Diamondbacks series, Snider had a modest five-game hitting streak.
62: Runs allowed by Miami in the eighth inning this year, fifth most in the majors
.667: Average for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton against Locke in nine at-bats. He has a double, two homers and two walks.
101: Homers by the Pirates, fourth most in the NL
1.95: ERA for Volquez in six starts against the Marlins. He is 5-0.
"Right now we’re coming off 17 straight days from the All-Star break. Beat up. It’s been an emotional last three or four days. We need a day off, which is going to be great. It’s coming at a perfect time. Guys need to unwind and relax and spend some time with their families and then we’ll go get them in Pittsburgh. We’ve been playing well on the road, so hopefully we can continue that. We still have a lot of games left to play." — Manager Mike Redmond on the much-needed off day
"I just couldn’t locate the fastball. It’s extremely frustrating from my end to not give the team a chance to win, not pitch deep in the game and really just didn’t pitch well." — Right-hander Jacob Turner on his struggles Sunday