Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins game preview
The Washington Nationals returned to a more familiar lineup and looked the part of a World Series contender again.
The Miami Marlins continue to look powerless without Giancarlo Stanton.
Washington seeks its 10th win in 13 games Friday night with Doug Fister on the mound in Miami.
The Nationals (88-64) sat a number of everyday players Wednesday after clinching the NL East 24 hours earlier and managed only five hits in a 3-1 loss to Atlanta.
Manager Matt Williams had his regular starters back in Thursday minus Adam LaRoche, who missed a second straight game to rest his ailing back. Washington hammered out 11 hits in a 6-2 series-opening victory at Marlins Park.
Bryce Harper was 3 for 4 and has hit .380 with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBIs over his last 13 games against the Marlins.
"That’s the way we play the game," said Ian Desmond, whose RBI pushed his team-leading total to 89. "Why change now? I think it’s kind of ingrained in our minds now the way that we’re supposed to go out there and go about our business."
LaRoche is expected to return Friday for Washington, which remains 1 1/2 games in front of the Dodgers for the NL’s best record.
Fister (14-6, 2.55 ERA) looks for a career-best 15th win and third straight after limiting the Braves and Mets to two earned runs and seven hits over 13 innings. He allowed 27 hits over 16 2-3 innings with a 5.94 ERA in his previous three outings.
The right-hander has been susceptible to the long ball lately, giving up six in his last five starts after yielding as many in his previous 14 games. Friday’s matchup might be an ideal spot for Fister to reverse that trend with Miami homering just twice in seven games without Stanton.
The Marlins (74-78) received a boost from seeing Stanton back in the clubhouse Thursday for the first time since a pitch to his face ended his season a week earlier, though it was short lived. Miami fell eight games back of a wild-card spot to all but vanquish any remaining hope of a playoff berth.
"With this team that we’re playing, these guys are going to the playoffs, we’ve got to play perfect baseball," manager Mike Redmond said. "We can’t give extra outs. We’ve got to take advantage and we’ve got to score runs when we can, and we weren’t able to do that."
Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.71) gets the start having gone 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in his last five home games. He threw seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball in an 11-2 home victory over Washington on April 15.
Desmond took exception to some inside pitches from Koehler, inciting a confrontation between he and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the plate that prompted the benches to empty.
Desmond called it "heat-of-the-moment stuff."
"Guys tend to get a little upset when they get crowded," Koehler said. "… It’s our job as starters to make sure they know that’s our part of the plate."
Fister’s only previous start against the Marlins came on June 26, 2011, when he held them to one run in eight innings of Seattle’s 2-1 victory.
Saltalamacchia is 4 for 27 over his last eight games but 5 for 11 off Fister with a home run and two doubles.