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Marlins go for 4-game sweep against Nationals

Sep 2, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Jake Burger (36) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever was bothering the Miami Marlins’ hitters sure seems to have been tossed aside the past few days.

The Marlins will look to keep their offense going against the host Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

“We came into this series knowing we were going to have to make up some ground in the wild card (race),” Miami third baseman Jake Burger said.

The Marlins (69-67) will look for a four-game series sweep on Sunday.

The Nationals (62-75) have a four-game losing streak that has stunted their second-half surge. They need to win Sunday or they will have exceeded a four-game losing streak for the first time since the All-Star break, although they are still 26-21 since.

Burger homered twice in Saturday’s 11-5 romp over the Nationals, giving him 30 home runs this season — and five in 28 games since joining the Marlins from the Chicago White Sox.

“For me, any way I can help the team win,” Burger said.

In the six games before this series, Miami tallied a total of 10 runs. The Marlins surged with 14 total runs in the first two games of the series vs. Washington.

Burger’s bat has been welcomed in the Marlins’ lineup, particularly if recent production continues.

“It’s not a surprise that he has some power, but understanding that he’s not just a pull-side power (hitter), but he’s a good hitter,” Miami manager Skip Schumaker said.

Miami also received a boost from infielder Xavier Edwards, who rejoined the Marlins with the expanded September roster after last playing in the big leagues in late May. He was 2-for-5 on Saturday.

“He takes really good at-bats,” Schumaker said. “He’s not going to chase outside the zone. He’s doing a lot for us in the time he has been up here.”

Washington needs an infusion of offense as well. The Nationals have scored five runs in each of the past two games, but with losses in six of their last seven games they’ve stalled following a three-game winning streak.

Outfielder Lane Thomas has homered in back-to-back games for the Nationals after going 21 consecutive games without a long ball.

“I think at some point you go through a little drought,” he said. “It felt good to put a few good swings on it.”

Thomas missed Thursday night’s game with a sore back but seems to have worked through that ailment.

“A little sore, but nothing anybody was worried about,” Thomas said. “It’s all good.”

Right-hander Sandy Alcantara (6-12, 4.23 ERA) will take the mound for Miami on Sunday. He has decisions in his last five starts, though he’s just 2-3 in those.

Alcantara gave up five runs and 10 hits, tied for his season high, in 5 1/3 innings at Washington on June 16 in his team’s eventual victory. Thomas went deep in that game off Alcantara.

In his career against Washington, Alcantara is 6-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 14 starts.

Right-hander Josiah Gray (7-11, 4.05) will try to get the Nationals back on track. He’s 0-3 in his last six starts and finished five innings only once in five August starts.

In mid-May at Miami, Gray had a no-decision while holding the Marlins to one earned run (two total runs) across seven innings. That matches his longest outing of the season. He’s 1-3 with a 4.47 ERA in nine all-time starts against Miami.

–Field Level Media

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