After a pair of comfortable victories, the Miami Marlins will look to complete a three-game series sweep of the visiting Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
While role players made key contributions for Miami the past two nights, the Nationals need to count more on veterans to help them out of a funk that has seen the team lose three in a row and 10 of the past 13 games.
“For me it’s about addressing the issues every day,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Hopefully, we get better. We’ve got some young guys that are learning and they’re getting better. We’ve got some older guys who’ve got to play better, but I think that will come.”
Miami, which has won all five meetings with the Nationals this season, is pursuing its second three-game sweep of Washington.
“We’re going to face these guys a lot,” Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “We’re playing at home and we’re playing really good baseball against the guys in our division.”
The Marlins have won consecutive games for the first time since claiming their last seven games to end April. They benefited from a strong spot start from Cody Poteet on Tuesday, as the right-hander put up 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Jesus Sanchez came off the Miami bench after center fielder Bryan De La Cruz departed with a forearm contusion stemming from being hit by a pitch. Sanchez promptly homered the next time that spot in the lineup came up.
“It’s a great feeling when everybody in the lineup up and down is contributing for the win,” Rojas said. “It feels nice to be part of it.”
Washington hasn’t generated much offense the past three games, scoring a total of three runs. The Nationals seemed to have the right player in a good spot on Tuesday, but Nelson Cruz struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning when they trailed by one run in an eventual 5-1 loss.
Cruz has struggled, hitting .188 with four homers in 34 games.
“I expect him to come back tomorrow to be on time,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to get our big horses to drive in some runs. When those guys hit, we’re in good shape.”
Washington has endured disastrous seventh innings in both games of the series, allowing a total of six runs.
Right-hander Josiah Gray (4-3, 4.34 ERA) will try to give Washington a boost in the series finale. Gray won consecutive starts before losing to the Houston Astros on Friday, when he allowed six runs on six hits in six innings. He has worked at least five innings in each of his past six outings.
Gray is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three career starts against Miami, with 25 strikeouts and seven walks in 17 2/3 innings.
The Marlins will go with right-hander Pablo Lopez (4-1, 1.05), who fired six shutout innings on April 27 in a win at Washington. He allowed three hits and one walk while fanning six.
His most recent outing was a seven-inning no-decision in which he struck out 11 without a walk Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Lopez yielded one run on three hits.
Lopez has a 4-2 record and a 4.53 ERA in 10 career starts against the Nationals.
–Field Level Media