Following a dramatic victory in their last outing, the Washington Nationals look to match their longest winning streak of the season when they continue their four-game series with the Florida Marlins at RFK Stadium on Wednesday.
The Nationals (37-48) have won four straight, thanks to the efforts of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and hope to match their run of five in a row from May 31-June 5.
Washington beat Florida 6-4 on Tuesday on a game-winning, three-run homer from Zimmerman with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“You sit in the dugout and dream—nothing wrong with that,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “And sometimes, it comes true.”
It was Zimmerman’s second game-ending home run in three weeks. He hit a two-run homer to help Washington beat the New York Yankees 3-2 on June 18.
Zimmerman has at least one RBI in six of his last seven games, and has a hit in each contest during that span. Overall, the 21-year-old rookie is batting .407 (11-for-27) with two homers and nine RBIs during his seven-game hitting streak, with four multihit games.
“He doesn’t play like a rookie, like the average rookie,” Robinson said. “You all heard the accolades that was thrown at him and thrown on him. He’s showing some of that. He’s a very special individual. They don’t come along often.”
All four wins during this streak have come at home for the Nationals, and they’ve won six of their past seven at RFK Stadium.
Mike O’Connor (3-5, 3.77 ERA) starts for Washington on Wednesday. The rookie left-hander has only one win since May 7 despite a low ERA.
He lost 11-1 to the Devil Rays on Friday, giving up eight hits—including two homers—and five runs in five innings. It was the second-most runs allowed this season by O’Connor, and the most hits he’s given up in any of his 13 starts.
“Two two-run home runs are going to get you most of the time,” O’Connor said. “They got that early lead and added on. The two home runs were pitches down and in. A lot of guys like that pitch. It was tough.”
After going 18-7 in June and not losing more than two games in a row, the Marlins (35-45) have lost four consecutive games to open this month.
Following seven appearances in the bullpen, Yusmeiro Petit (0-1, 7.36) will make his first career start for the Marlins on Wednesday. The 21-year-old right-hander from Venezuela was originally called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on May 13 and pitched in relief before being sent down on June 18.
He was recalled this week because starter Brian Moehler was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right foot.
“It’s helped the guys to start off in the ‘pen,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it helps them relax. It gets them in situations when they don’t have a lot of time to think coming into games … they don’t have to think (for) four days before their start, three days before their start.”
Petit was acquired from the Mets in the offseason as part of the trade that sent first baseman Carlos Delgado to New York. He allowed two runs or less in each of his first six appearances, but gave up seven runs and six hits to San Francisco on June 5 in his last major league outing.