The playoff race is becoming interesting again for the Miami Marlins, and it has the team’s full attention.
Coming off an 8-5, 11-inning win at Washington on Friday, the Marlins will look for their third straight victory when they face the Nationals again on Saturday.
“To come out on top is what makes it most exciting,” said Miami utility player Garrett Hampson, who homered in the 11th inning on Friday.
The Marlins have won only five of their past 15 outings, but they could be gaining traction again. Miami (68-67) sits just two games behind the final National League wild-card position, which is jointly held by the San Francisco Giants (70-65) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (70-65).
The latest result might provide a needed boost.
“You’re at the point in the season hoping the breaks are going to go your way,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “You find ways to win games, and we’ll take them any way we can get them.”
Hampson, who homered for only the second time this season, wants to be one of the contributors down the stretch.
“I love the group of guys. I love the staff,” he said. “I enjoy being here. Baseball is supposed to be fun.”
Even though Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler missed a third consecutive game as he copes with a sore hip, he was available to be used, Schumaker said.
The Nationals (62-74) have lost three in a row and five of their last six games.
Infielder Ildemaro Vargas could be back in the Washington lineup this weekend after a couple of days off. Manager Davey Martinez said Vargas had a heavy workload while playing every inning of the previous 25 contests.
“He has played unbelievable defense for one,” Martinez said. “I was looking at it, I’ve got to find a way to get him a break.”
Nationals outfielder Travis Blankenhorn made an impression in his first major league game in more than a year, homering and walking twice on Friday. He was called up as part of the September roster expansion.
Right-hander Trevor Williams (6-8, 4.82 ERA) will start for the Nationals on Saturday. He was solid on Sunday at Miami, limiting the Marlins to two runs in seven innings, but he wound up as the losing pitcher.
For his career, Williams is 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 12 outings (seven starts) against the Marlins, 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA in three starts this year. He is one strikeout away from reaching 100 in a season for the first time since 2019.
Martinez intends to take advantage of the flexibility he has with pitchers added to the bullpen this month.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate that our guys have done well,” the manager said. “I know after talking to our starters, the six-man rotation didn’t bother them a bit. I think the extra days helped these guys.
“The bullpen, we kind of managed their innings the best we can, and for the most part, we’ve done a pretty good job with that. The biggest thing is keeping these guys healthy.”
The Marlins didn’t announce a starting pitcher for Saturday, but they should have more options. Geoff Hartlieb was called up from Triple-A Jacksonville as part of the September roster expansion. He wasn’t among the six Miami pitchers used Friday night.
–Field Level Media