Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies game preview
If the Philadelphia Phillies can keep their win streak going, they’ll also avoid a dubious distinction.
Aaron Harang will try to help take away any possibility of the Phillies reaching 100 losses with another respectable performance against the Miami Marlins in Saturday’s opener to a doubleheader.
Philadelphia (62-97) needs one more win to avoid its first 100-loss season since 1961. It didn’t seem like the Phillies would have a chance to do that until their current four-game win streak, which included a three-game sweep of the NL East champion New York Mets.
Rookie Jerad Eickhoff fanned 10 over seven innings in Thursday’s 3-0 win but rain washed away their chance at another victory Friday against Miami (69-90).
"It’ll be nice if we can eliminate the 2015 team from that (100-loss) milestone," first baseman Darin Ruf said. "We’re just trying to go out and play hard and win some games. The pitching staff did a great job this week, and if they can continue to do that, we’ll keep under 100."
The Phillies have a 2.24 ERA in their last 12 games, with their starters posting a 2.21 mark, and Harang (6-15, 4.86 ERA) has contributed by going 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last two.
The first of those outings was a 6-2 victory in Miami on Sept. 22 in which he allowed two runs in seven innings while ending an eight-game winless stretch. Harang is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his two matchups with the Marlins in 2015.
The veteran right-hander, though, also made those starts in Miami. He’s 1-7 with a 6.75 ERA in his last 10 outings at Citizens Bank Park.
Harang will face a Marlins team that’s dropped six straight on the road after enduring a three-game sweep to Tampa Bay this week. Miami was also swept in three games in its most recent visit to Philadelphia from July 17-19.
Tom Koehler (11-14, 4.00) will try to set a different tone for this series by earning his fourth win in five starts. The right-hander gave up four runs in 6 2-3 innings Sunday against Atlanta but got enough support for a 9-5 victory.
Koehler has gotten a combined four runs of support while going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season.
Justin Nicolino (4-4, 4.16) will try to build on his strong performance in a 6-2 win over Atlanta last Saturday when he starts the finale for Miami. The rookie left-hander yielded one run and two hits in seven innings after going 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his prior three starts.
"Just a tremendous effort by that young man to give us seven strong like he did. He made quality pitch after quality pitch," manager Dan Jennings told MLB’s official website.
Nicolino gave up seven runs in 5 2-3 innings in his latest road outing, a 13-3 drubbing to Washington on Sept. 20. He fared better in his only start against Philadelphia on Aug. 22, giving up two runs in 7 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss.
The Phillies’ Alec Asher (0-5, 9.00) will get his last chance this season to earn his first win in his seventh career start. The right-hander didn’t make it out of the first inning Wednesday against the New York Mets and was charged with five runs before the Phillies rallied 7-5 win.
Asher had his best showing Sept. 24 against the Marlins – allowing one run and three hits in seven innings – but took a 1-0 loss.
Miami’s Dee Gordon, hitting .329, trails Washington’s Bryce Harper by two points in the NL batting race. The outfielder is also two hits shy of becoming the first Marlins player with 200 in a season since Hanley Ramirez in 2007.
Gordon is batting .211 in his last five games against the Phillies after hitting .448 in his first seven this season. He’s 2 for 13 lifetime against Harang and 0 for 3 versus Asher.