Preview: Marlins get one last shot at redemption in last game of series vs. Nationals
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
MIAMI — Miami Marlins players and coaches this week are no doubt mixing some weather reports in with their scouting reports.
Fortunately for the Marlins (67-71), they hit the road after the series finale against the Washington Nationals (84-54) on Wednesday.
That flight out of town will help the Marlins avoid the expected effects of Hurricane Irma, which is supposed to strike the Miami area by Sunday morning.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he is grateful team owner Jeffrey Loria is picking up the tab to take families of players and coaches on their upcoming seven-day road trip, including four games at Atlanta and three at Philadelphia.
“(The Marlins) are providing a service for our families,” Mattingly said. “I think it’s really nice for the organization.”
Before the Marlins can bolt out of town, they have to conclude the three-game set against Washington. Miami lost 2-1 on Tuesday and could get swept Wednesday.
In search of the sweep, the Nationals will throw left-hander Gio Gonzalez (13-6, 2.58 ERA) against Marlins rookie lefty Dillon Peters (0-0, 0.00).
Gonzalez, who is from Miami Dade County, is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Marlins this year. For his career, he is 9-3 with a 1.94 ERA in 15 career starts against the Marlins.
At Marlins Park, he is 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA. The last time he was here, he nearly threw a no-hitter on July 31, settling for a 1-0 victory, allowing one hit in eight-plus innings.
Peters tossed seven scoreless innings in his major league debut Friday against the Phillies.
The Nationals won’t have Bryce Harper available Wednesday, but the star right fielder played catch Tuesday for the first time since injuring his left knee Aug. 12.
“It’s encouraging,” said Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who is using Jayson Werth in right field in place of Harper. “When you see him doing light baseball activities, you know he is on his way.
“Nobody can predict where he is (in terms of the rate of his recovery), but be at least initiated signs of progress.”
Harper has yet to swing a bat, however, and the first-place Nationals are hoping there is enough time on the schedule to get him back in time for the playoffs.
“At some point, we’re going to need ‘Harp’,” Baker said. “They say injuries are no excuse, and they aren’t, but it depends on who is hurt.”
The Marlins, who seemed to a viable playoff contender 10 days ago, have fallen to the fringes of the wild-card race after losing eight of their past nine games.
Even so, there are some Marlins players worth watching, including Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors with 53 homers, and Marcell Ozuna, who is enjoying a breakout year with 32 homers and 107 RBIs.
Mattingly, though, is not as interested in talking about anything except team goals.
“Teams in pennant races are the most interesting to watch — at least for me,” he said. “Individual stuff gets pushed to the side.”
Mattingly also said he likes the expanded playoffs, with a second wild-card berth now available.
“It gets more teams involved,” he said. “It makes things exciting down the stretch.”