Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins series primer

Brad Hand will start the first game of the series against the Nationals at Marlins Park.

Steve Mitchell

There’s no place like home, or so the Miami Marlins hope.

A 5-2 start to the 2014 season quickly turned sour on a winless six-game roadtrip to Washington and Philadelphia.

Having dropped seven in a row, the last-place Marlins (5-8) once again face the second-place Nationals (7-5), who were swept by the Braves this weekend.

The first two pitching matchups will be the same, though Washington will look a bit different this time around with Ryan Zimmerman (thumb) and Denard Span (concussion) on the disabled list. Miami ace Jose Fernandez will try to bounce back from the worst outing of his career in the series finale.

Here’€™s a look at the upcoming Nationals-Marlins series:

SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS

WHO’S HOT

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OF Bryce Harper (Nationals): When the teams met last week, Harper was batting .143 with no RBI and no extra-base hits. That quickly changed when he blasted an upper-deck three-run homer. His average is now at .310 with hits in his past six games.

SS Adeiny Hechavarria (Marlins): Questions concerned his bat after last season’s struggles, but the 24-year-old has been Miami’s most consistent hitter through the first two weeks. Hechavarria has six multi-hit games — two over the weekend  — through 12 starts for a team-leading .353 batting average.

WHO’S NOT

C Jose Lobaton (Nationals): Inserted into the starting role with Wilson Ramos on the disabled list, Lobaton has the lowest average (.192) among Washington starters and no RBI. He has sat the past two games.

2B Jeff Baker (Marlins): While Derek Dietrich has a .313 average, a double, a homer and five RBI with Rafael Furcal on the disabled list, his platoon partner hasn’t fared as well. Baker is just 3 for 26 (.113) with a double and three RBI. He is hitless in his past three games.

STORYLINES

36: The Marlins struck out 36 times over last week’€™s three-game series against the Nationals.

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44: After opening the season with a .293 average with runners in scoring position, Miami left 44 men on base in Washington.

2: The number of grand slams in consecutive days for the Nationals during the three-game sweep.

7: Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has seven career wins against the Marlins, most of any opponent.

PROMOTIONS

April 14 — South Florida Heroes Monday, All You Can Eat Special, Monday Madness group offer

April 15 — Half Price Tuesday, Jackie Robinson Night

April 16 — Kids Eat Free Wednesday Night, Chevron Crazy 8’s Wednesday

QUOTE BOARD

"Off night." — Manager Mike Redmond on ace Jose Fernandez’s worst start of his career in a loss to the Phillies last Friday

"I’m really comfortable wherever. It doesn’t matter to me." — Outfielder Christian Yelich on leading off in the order

"I think the silver lining is even though there were 17 strikeouts there were still some good at-bats against a tough pitcher. We gave ourselves a chance." — Third baseman Casey McGehee following Thursday’s 7-1 loss to Strasburg and the Nationals

LOOKING AHEAD

April 18-20 — Mariners at Marlins

 

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.