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After breakout win, Marlins seek encore vs. Nationals

Sportsnaut
Jun 7, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2) flips his bat after hitting a two-run home-run in the 5th inning against the Washington Nationals at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the meeting worked.

The Miami Marlins, who entered Tuesday with just five wins in their past 16 games, held a 90-minute players/coaches conference.

After routing the visiting Washington Nationals 12-2 on Tuesday night, the Marlins will look to keep it going on Wednesday when the teams contest the middle game of a three-game set.

“It was my idea to get the group together and talk,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We have higher expectations for ourselves as a team. …

“There’s conversations you have that are confrontational that are not easy. But if you don’t get them out, nothing gets solved. I think I’ve found out over the years being a little older, those situations are better met head on, honestly, openly, and then you have a chance to move forward.”

The Marlins have won six of seven games against the Nationals this year, but they are just 17-29 against all other teams.

On Wednesday, the Marlins have, on paper at least, a favorable pitching match with right-hander Sandy Alcantara (6-2, 1.81 ERA) opposing Nationals right-hander Josiah Gray (6-4, 4.71).

The Marlins have won each of Alcantara’s past five starts. All five were quality starts as he posted a stellar 0.69 ERA during that span.

Alcantara, however, has struggled in his career against Washington, going 4-6 with a 4.34 ERA in 10 starts.

The defense behind Alcantara might be without center fielder Jesus Sanchez, who exited the Tuesday game due to back tightness.

Fortunately for the Marlins, they got some stellar play from their other outfielders on Tuesday, including Jorge Soler, who banged a two-run homer and a double. Avisail Garcia went 3-for-4 with a run, and Bryan De La Cruz, who replaced Sanchez in center, went 1-for-5 with one run.

Much of Miami’s offense came from second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr., who hit a grand slam and a two-run homer for a career-high six RBIs.

Gray, who leads the Nationals in wins this year, is 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins. In three starts at Miami, he is 1-0 with a 3.50 ERA.

Oddly, Gray has had more success with backup catcher Riley Adams (3.25 ERA in seven career games) than he has with starter Keibert Ruiz (6.45 ERA in 13 games).

The last time Ruiz caught Gray, the Nationals lost 9-4 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 24. On Gray’s next two times out, Adams was behind the plate, and Gray earned two wins, allowing just three runs (two earned) in 11 innings. Those were Gray’s two most recent starts.

The Washington rotation figures to get a big boost starting Thursday when three-time All-Star Stephen Strasburg is due to return from the injured list for his season debut.

Strasburg, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since June 1, 2021, is making a comeback from thoracic outlet surgery.

“I’m not going to put any limitations on him,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Strasburg, the 2019 World Series MVP. “We’ll see how far we can take him.”

The Nationals, who had their three-game win streak snapped on Tuesday, are getting a boost from 22-year-old shortstop Luis Garcia.

With Alcides Escobar on the injured list due to a right-hamstring issue, Garcia has responded since his June 1 recall to the majors. He went 2-for-4 with a homer on Tuesday, giving him a .391 average (9-for-23) with six RBIs in six games.

Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas also is on a hot streak. He went 2-for-5 with a double and a run on Tuesday, his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. Thomas hit three homers in a Friday win at Cincinnati.

–Field Level Media