A week ago, the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds played a four-game series with National League wild-card implications on the line.
The Reds took three of four, fueled in the opener by a controversial overturned call at the plate in the eighth inning.
Miami (55-59) enters this weekend series having dropped two of three in Pittsburgh, falling 6 1/2 games back in the standings. Cincinnati (59-56) has won three in a row and seven of its last 10. The Reds are three behind the San Francisco Giants.
Since 2012, the Marlins are 5-12 against the Reds and 14-22 at Great American Ball Park.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi got back on track in his previous start against the Reds, allowing just one run on two hits over seven innings in a no-decision. He struck out six — his highest total since June 6. Miami has won his last two starts after losing five in a row. Righty Mike Leake earned the win in his last start against the Marlins, permitting a run on three hits in six innings with five strikeouts and four walks.
With righty Henderson Alvarez on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, the Marlins have yet to announce a starter for the second game but it’s likely to be Brad Penny, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2012. Miami signed him to a deal in June. He has gone 2-4 with a 3.05 ERA in the minors. All-Star Alfredo Simon did not pitch in Miami. He is coming off one of his worst starts of the year, surrendering five runs on six hits in five frames vs. Cleveland on Aug. 4. He has lost four straight starts since the All-Star break.
Southpaw Brad Hand looks to continue his impressive turnaround in the finale. He is 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA since the break. Hand didn’t finish the seventh for the first time in his last three starts but still gave up just two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 against the Pirates on Aug. 5. Righty Johnny Cueto has gone at least seven innings in his past three starts, including a complete game victory in Cleveland. Last week in Miami, he allowed just one run on four hits in seven frames. He has won five straight decisions.
Here’s a look at the upcoming Marlins-Reds series…
SS Adeiny Hechavarria (Marlins): Although he was hitless in three at-bats on Thursday, Hechavarria is batting .306 over his past 10 games. He has multi-hit contests in two of his past four. Hot hitters are hard to come by on the club after rough series against the Reds and Pirates.
C/1B Brayan Pena (Reds): During his current 11-game hitting streak, Pena is batting .375 with three runs, three RBI and four multi-hit contests. He finished the Indians series with consecutive multi-hit games, going 4 for 8. Pena went 3 for 8 in two games against the Marlins last week.
3B Casey McGehee (Marlins): As his struggles continued, McGehee sat out the finale in Pittsburgh. He had appeared in all but one of Miami’s 113 games entering Thursday. He is batting .121 with just one RBI over his past 10 contests. McGehee is 1 for his last 14 at-bats
C/1B Devin Mesoraco (Reds): After collecting five hits over nine at-bats Sunday and Monday against the Marlins and Indians, Mesoraco has gone hitless in his past eight at-bats with three strikeouts, no runs, no RBI and no walks.
7: Consecutive starts without a win for Eovaldi, dating back to June 23
.208: Average with runners in scoring position for the Marlins during the four-game series. They went 5 for 24, scoring just eight runs.
43: Stolen bases for Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, one fewer than the Marlins as a team
38: Strikeouts for Reds pitchers against the Marlins in the four-game set
"The scans were negative — it seems I’m going to be ok. The support shown tonight has been unbelievable, speechless. God is amazing." — Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, via Twitter, after getting struck in the head by a liner
"There’s more to life than baseball. Everyone pray for a speedy recovery from Dan Jennings. @Marlins family is all behind you." — Right-hander Jarred Cosart, via Twitter, on his teammate