Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta is doubtful his team can repeat the offensive outburst it had in its first game after the All-Star break. He could be proven wrong if Dmitri Young continues his impressive hitting.
Young and the Nationals (37-52) look to match their longest winning streak of the season Saturday when they face the Florida Marlins (42-48).
After taking the final two games of a series against Milwaukee before the break, Washington began the second half with a 14-10 victory over the Marlins on Friday.
The 14 runs were a season high and gave the Nationals their highest-scoring game since a 19-18 win over the New York Mets on July 26, 2004, when the franchise was still in Montreal. Washington averages a major league-worst 3.82 runs per contest.
“We’re not expecting this every day,” said Acta, whose club will try to win four straight for the third time this season. “You can’t. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we won.”
Young drove in four runs, hitting a three-run double in the fourth to cap a six-run inning. Ronnie Belliard added three hits and Nook Logan scored four runs. Eleven Nationals had at least one hit, with five having more than one.
“We all had big days on the same day,” said Young, who has 10 RBIs in his last four games. “We don’t even need that many hits most of the time.”
The Nats and Marlins will be looking for better pitching performances Saturday following a tough night for both teams’ starters. Washington’s Jason Bergmann lasted 4 1-3 innings and allowed eight runs and three homers. Florida’s Dontrelle Willis didn’t fare much better, giving up eight runs - three earned - and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings. The teams combined to use 12 pitchers.
The Nationals will hand the ball Saturday to Matt Chico (4-5, 4.39 ERA), who’s coming off his first win in nine starts. The left-hander pitched seven innings and allowed four hits, struck out four and walked four in a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on July 4.
Chico was 0-1 with a 4.03 ERA in his previous eight starts. He’s allowed one run over his last three outings and thrown 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
The 24-year-old rookie, though, is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts against the Marlins. He didn’t make it past the fifth inning in any of those outings.
Sergio Mitre (3-4, 2.85) will take the mound for Florida on Saturday. Mitre also broke a long winless streak in his last start, giving up two runs and 11 hits in seven innings to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2 last Saturday. The right-hander had gone without a victory in his previous seven starts.
Mitre is 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA in four relief appearances and one start against the Nationals. The start came April 16 of last season, when he pitched 5 2-3 innings and gave up three runs with two walks and six strikeouts in Washington’s 7-5 loss. He didn’t get the decision.