The Miami Marlins get to play their next nine games at home, which may not be a good thing.
Back from a long and mostly successful road trip, they attempt to reverse some unusual early season splits in Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sunday’s 14-5 loss at Milwaukee was one of the Marlins’ few negatives on their 10-game trek that helped put behind a slow start to Don Mattingly’s first season. Miami (12-12) won seven straight prior to that result, highlighted by a four-game sweep of a Los Angeles Dodgers team that parted ways with Mattingly following last October’s postseason exit.
An improved offense has sparked the surge, as the Marlins are hitting .308 with 13 home runs over their last eight games.
"I thought our whole team — really the quality of our at-bats up and down have been really good on this trip," Mattingly told MLB’s official website. "Guys have played good baseball. You don’t want to end a trip like this. It would’ve been nice to put a little cherry on the top of this trip, but it’s actually a really good trip for us."
Miami has yet to be impacted by Dee Gordon’s recent 80-game suspension for PED use, with hot stretches from several players offsetting the reigning NL batting champion’s departure. Giancarlo Stanton has five home runs and 10 RBIs and J.T. Realmuto is 15 for 29 over seven-game hitting streaks and Martin Prado is 14 for 24 over his last five.
The Marlins now try to maintain that production at home, where they’ve hit .248 and averaged 3.8 runs while losing seven of nine. They’re batting .293 with 16 homers in compiling a 10-5 road mark.
Realmuto has particularly struggled at Marlins Park, where he’s hitting .107 compared to a .429 road average.
Timely hitting has been an issue of late for Arizona (12-15), batting .114 with runners in scoring position during a 1-5 stretch. The Diamondbacks went 2 for 16 in such situations while mustering five runs in three straight home losses to Colorado over the weekend.
"We’re just not relaxing and doing the things that we can do well," manager Chip Hale said following Sunday’s 6-3 loss. "We have those guys out there with nobody out and can’t get them in. That’s just not who we are, and that’s happened way too much on this homestand."
Like Miami, the Diamondbacks have done their best work on the road. They’re 7-3 away from Chase Field and 5-12 at home, where the pitching staff has compiled a 6.36 ERA.
Arizona has posted a 2.57 ERA on the road, where Patrick Corbin (1-3, 4.88 ERA) is 5-1 with a 3.11 ERA in nine starts dating back to July 29.
Corbin comes in after permitting 11 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in consecutive home defeats. He was reached for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 11-4 loss to St. Louis and allowed three homers in an 8-7 loss to Pittsburgh on April 22.
Miami’s Justin Nicolino (1-0, 0.00) looks to reprise Wednesday’s outstanding 2016 debut in Los Angeles, where he yielded two hits and two walks over 7 1/3 innings of a 2-0 victory. The 24-year-old owns a 1.27 ERA over a three-start winning streak beginning in late September.
Nicolino faces an Arizona lineup currently led by rookie Brandon Drury, who went 3 for 5 Sunday and homered for the fourth time in five games.
The Diamondbacks swept a four-game set at Marlins Park last May, with Yasmany Tomas going 9 for 18 in the series.