Chen to pitch for friend Fernandez against Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Wei-Yin Chen will be pitching with a friend in mind when he takes the mound on Saturday at Nationals Park against Washington.
The Miami Marlins left-hander was in the starting rotation with right-hander Jose Fernandez, who died Sunday in a boating accident off the Miami coast. A private memorial service was held Thursday in Florida.
"A lot of moments keep coming back to my mind," Chen said through a translator Friday, standing by his locker in the Marlins clubhouse. "He is such a passionate athlete. I hope I can have the same smile" as he did after the game.
Chen is 0-1 in two starts against Washington in his career with a 4.76 ERA.
"I will try to do my job and pitch a good game for him," Chen added. "I would like to get my first major league hit and honor him." Chen is 0-for-42 with no walks as a hitter in his first season with the Marlins.
Chen (5-4, 5.02 ERA) will be opposed by Washington right-hander Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.86), who will be aiming for a career-high 16th win in his last regular-season game. He is on track to start Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 8, though Washington has not made it official.
The Nationals are aiming for the home-field edge for the series. They lost 7-4 Friday to the Marlins after they entered the day with a magic number of two to clinch the homefield advantage against the Dodgers.
Washington manager Dusty Baker has to juggle between the need to win and giving playing time to regulars as a tuneup for the playoffs. The Nationals can gain home-field with wins in their last two games no matter what the Dodgers do against the San Francisco Giants this weekend.
"We will try to win the game. It is within our reach," Baker said of the home-field edge. "That is what we hope to do."
Roark will be making his sixth start this year against the Marlins, the most of any opponent. Roark lasted just four innings on Monday in a loss to Arizona, giving up four hits and five runs with one walk and six strikeouts.
The Marlins (79-80), meanwhile, need to win the last two games to secure a winning record.
"You approach it the same way," said closer A.J. Ramos, who got his 40th save on Friday. "Definitely get ready the same exact way because your numbers are still your numbers. Everyone here is a competitor and we want to win the last few games. That is what we are focusing on."
A winning record would be nice. But in light of a trying week for the Marlins, it is hard to put into perspective. "Organizationally, it sounds a lot better," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of a winning record. "It is hard for me to think about it" now.