MARLINS (48-87) AT NATIONALS (76-58)
1:35 p.m. ET; MASN2, FS-F, MLB.TV
The Washington Nationals (-1.5), who have the best record in the majors since May 24, will go for a three-game sweep of the visiting Miami Marlins (+1.5) on Sunday afternoon.
Miami is having a dreadful season, having lost a franchise-record 14 consecutive road games. The Marlins also have the worst overall record in the National League.
Miami has had a tough time stopping Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is 5-for-7 with five RBIs, four runs scored and two homers in the first two games of this series.
Then again, Rendon, who is batting .335 with 37 doubles, 31 homers and 109 RBIs, has been having success against just about everyone this season.
“(Rendon) does what he’s been doing all year,” said Nationals coach Dave Martinez, whose club has won three straight games and eight of nine. “He’s a candidate for MVP. He’s carried us in big moments.”
Nationals left fielder Juan Soto has also been big in this series, going 4-for-8 with four RBIs, three doubles, two runs scored and one homer.
For the season, Soto is hitting .294 with 30 homers and 92 RBIs.
In Saturday’s 7-0 win over Miami, Soto became the seventh major-leaguer with at least 30 homers in his age-20 season or younger.
Rendon and Soto are the first Nationals teammates to each hit at least 30 homers in a season since Adam Dunn had 38 and Ryan Zimmerman 33 in 2009.
“Those two guys (Rendon and Soto) are a tough combo to get through in the middle of their lineup,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They are both really good hitters. They put the ball in play, using the entire field. They are a handful. The guys around them are also good, but they stand out.”
Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith (8-8, 4.05 ERA) has been announced as Miami’s starter for Sunday, meaning he has the unenviable task of trying to slow down Rendon and Soto.
Washington will counter with left-hander Patrick Corbin (10-6, 3.15 ERA).
Smith has struggled on the road this year (2-5, 4.30 ERA). Overall this season, he has allowed 25 homers in 22 starts, including four in his past two games.
For his career, Smith is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two career starts against the Nationals. Both of those games occurred this year, including one start in Washington on May 26.
Smith lasted just three innings in that game, which was his most recent outing against Washington. The Nationals got to him for five hits, two walks and five runs.
Corbin, meanwhile, has dominated the Marlins this year, going 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three starts.
That’s bad news for the Marlins, who struck out 17 times against the Nationals on Saturday, managing just two singles and one walk. Most of that damage was done by Stephen Strasburg, who won his 12th straight decision against the Marlins, pitching eight scoreless innings and matching a season high with 14 strikeouts.
“We couldn’t get anything going against Strasburg,” Mattingly said. “He was throwing a lot of strikes. His stuff is all good.”
But Miami also struggled against reliever Tanner Rainey, who struck out the side in the ninth.
Miami’s hottest batter is third baseman Starlin Castro, who has hit safely in 17 of his past 18 games at Nationals Park. Castro had a big August with seven homers and 28 RBIs, his best month of the season in both categories.
–Field Level Media