Losers of three straight, the Marlins continue to hang on in the tight National League East. Entering Tuesday's matchup with the Nationals at Sun Life Stadium, the Fish sit 10 1/2 games behind the division-leading Braves and 7 1/2 games behind the Wild Card-leading Phillies -- a tough, yet not impossible, hurdle to overcome.
With 21 of their remaining 31 games against the NL East -- two against the Mets, five vs. the Nationals, six with the Braves and eight against the Phillies -- the Marlins have the ability to make up some serious ground.
Unfortunately, they can't afford another slipup to a sub-.500 team, as was demonstrated -- following a three-hour rain delay -- in Monday's 9-3 loss to the Nats.
Looking to put his club back in the win column will be right-hander Anibal Sanchez. In his most recent start, the 26-year-old was tagged for four runs on nine hits over just five innings of work. In his three previous starts, he posted a 1.38 ERA, with opponents batting only .170.
Though the Nationals have been playing spoiler for quite some time, they, too, have a stake in each game -- especially when right-hander Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound.
Making his second big league start since returning from Tommy John surgery, Zimmermann will attempt to improve upon his last outing, in which he surrendered five runs over four innings.
"If we can get him in the six-inning range, I'll be happy," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We want to continue to grow with him."
With Stephen Strasburg out 12 to 16 months, the Nationals are hoping that Zimmermann, their 24-year-old second-round Draft pick, can make big strides and, perhaps, fill some of the gaping void.
With one day until the Sept. 1 roster expansion date, the final month of the 2010 season could be an exciting time for Nationals fans.
Nationals: Hot times for Washington
With Monday night's victory over the Marlins, the Nationals tied their season-long win streak (accomplished five times), with three. ... Elder statesman Livan Hernandez signed a one-year extension with the Nats on Sunday reportedly worth $1 million plus incentives. Over his 94 career starts with the franchise, the steady 35-year-old right-hander has gone 35-31, with a 4.27 ERA.
Marlins: Growing pains for Stanton
Rookie outfielder Mike Stanton continues to experience growing pains during the Marlins' stretch run, though he snapped an 0-for-31 skid with a single in the eighth inning off Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard on Monday.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez is confident that his young slugger will snap out of it.
"I'm more concerned with how he's handling the whole slump more than he is the hitting," Rodriguez said. "I know he will figure it out. It's a matter of talking to him and making sure that the confidence is fine.
"We told him, 'That's part of being a Major Leaguer. It doesn't matter if your name is Stanton or Albert Pujols. You are going to slump, although Pujols' would be, like, a 10-at-bat slump.' He needs to learn that's going to happen to anybody. He's fine. He's out there working. He's handled it fine."
Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla had started all 129 games entering Monday's series opener against the Nationals. That streak ended, however, after he was scratched with a strained right groin. The 30-year-old, who is one home run shy of becoming the first Marlin to produce four 30-homer seasons, is listed as day-to-day.
Tue, 8/31 7:10 PM ET
Tracy ends scoreless duel with walk-off single
After Brett Hayes hung onto the ball in a violent collision with Nyjer Morgan for an out in the top of the 10th inning, the Marlins' Chad Tracy hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the frame to beat the Nationals in Miami.
|Kennedy, A, 2B||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.253|
|Dunn, A, 1B||2||0||1||0||2||0||0||.266|
|Rodriguez, I, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.267|
|Peralta, Jo, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b-Gonzalez, Ab, PH-2B||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.284|
|Ramirez, H, SS||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.299|
|Sanchez, G, 1B||3||0||1||0||1||1||1||.285|
|Tracy, C, 3B||4||0||1||1||0||0||1||.256|
|Sanchez, An, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.130|
|a-Murphy, Do, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.293|
TB: Dunn, A; Morse; Morgan; Harris.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Morgan; Desmond.
Team RISP: 0-for-4.
Team LOB: 7.
Outfield assists: Bernadina (Sanchez, G at 3rd base).
2B: Sanchez, G (34, Zimmermann).
TB: Ramirez, H; Sanchez, G 2; Tracy, C.
RBI: Tracy, C (9).
Team RISP: 1-for-2.
Team LOB: 3.
SB: Ramirez, H (28, 2nd base off Storen/Rodriguez, I).
Outfield assists: Maybin (Desmond at 1st base).
DP: 2 (Maybin-Sanchez, G, Bonifacio-Ramirez, H-Hayes).
Pitches-strikes: Zimmermann 86-55, Peralta, Jo 17-10, Clippard 33-23, Storen 13-6, Sanchez, An 126-80, Veras 27-15, Hensley 23-10.
Groundouts-flyouts: Zimmermann 3-4, Peralta, Jo 1-1, Clippard 3-2, Storen 1-0, Sanchez, An 4-8, Veras 3-1, Hensley 1-0.
Batters faced: Zimmermann 18, Peralta, Jo 4, Clippard 6, Storen 4, Sanchez, An 25, Veras 8, Hensley 4.
Umpires: HP: Jim Wolf. 1B: Marvin Hudson. 2B: Derryl Cousins. 3B: Mike Estabrook.
Weather: 88 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 15 mph, In from CF.
T: 3:01 (:04 delay).
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media