The Florida Marlins will be in the NL East basement heading into
the All-Star break, but that could be a temporary spot the way the
club is playing.
The host Marlins try to win a season-best fifth straight Sunday
when they go for the four-game sweep against the major league-worst
Moving past a 1-19 skid from June 1-20 that saw 80-year-old Jack
McKeon return to the dugout to replace former manager Edwin
Rodriguez, the Marlins (42-48) are enjoying one of their best
stretches of the season, winning eight of 11 to inch within 2 1/2
games of fourth-place Washington in the East.
Florida, a 6-1 winner Saturday, last posted five consecutive
victories Aug. 17-21.
The Marlins, who are batting .300 (39 for 130) and averaging 6.0
runs during their current surge, have outscored Houston 104-53
while winning 13 of 15 at home in this matchup.
That kind of production could help Chris Volstad (4-8, 5.46
ERA), Sunday’s scheduled starter. The right-hander is coming off
one of his worst starts of the season, a 14-2 loss to Philadelphia
on Tuesday when he gave up seven runs and nine hits over four
innings in his shortest outing since May 30.
“They just see me really well. I don’t know what else to say,”
Volstad told the Marlins’ official website.
He might not have to worry about that against the light-hitting
Astros (30-61), who are batting .194 with four total runs in this
Houston has lost 16 of 19 to fall 31 games below .500 for the
first time since finishing 65-97 in 1991.
“This is something that not a lot of us have been through
before,” third baseman Chris Johnson said. “Personally, I’ve never
been on a team that’s struggled like this.”
The Astros will try to end the first half on a positive note
with Wandy Rodriguez (6-5, 3.25) on the mound. The left-hander is
3-2 since a stint on the disabled list with an elbow injury,
throwing shutout ball in three of those outings and giving up five
runs in the other two.
Rodriguez surrendered five runs and eight hits through six
innings in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss at Pittsburgh.
“I had bad luck today,” he said. “I threw a lot of good
pitches, but they hit the ball, broken-bat base hits. A bad day,
but that’s what happens some times.”
Rodriguez is 3-2 with a 2.18 ERA in seven starts versus Florida
after throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a 4-3 home loss to
the Marlins on April 8.
Hanley Ramirez, 7 for 17 with two triples off the left-hander,
is making a strong push to the All-Star break by batting .381 (24
for 63) with four homers and 20 RBIs over the last 17 games.
Left fielder Logan Morrison is 6 for 16 with a homer and eight
RBIs during the Marlins’ winning streak after knocking in a
season-best three runs Saturday. He has four hits – including a
double – in six at-bats off Rodriguez.
Before competing in his second All-Star Game, Hunter Pence will
try to end an 0-for-11 skid in this series. The Astros right
fielder is 4 for 11 off Volstad.