After getting a major league record-setting home run from third baseman Jorge Cantu, the Marlins send Johnson to the mound for the middle game of their series with the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
Florida (75-72) has gotten outstanding production at the plate, giving the team a slim chance of making the playoffs. The Marlins are eight games behind the New York Mets in the NL East and trail wild card-leading Milwaukee by eight, which is much better than many expected of them entering the season.
That success is due in part to 188 homers this season, with most of that production coming from Florida’s young and talented starting infielders.
On Friday night, Cantu’s solo homer in the Marlins’ 2-1 win over Washington (56-91) made Florida the first team in major league history to have four infielders hit at least 25.
“When they look back a hundred years from now we’re the first team to do it,” Cantu said.
Johnson (4-1, 3.33 ERA) has also been a part of the Marlins’ efforts to stay in the playoff hunt, due to his ability to stop hitters from going deep. He has surrendered five home runs in 70 1-3 innings since being activated from the 60-day disabled list on July 10, and just two of those were allowed in his last seven starts.
The right-hander, back in the rotation after having right elbow surgery early last season, has given up three runs or less in 10 of his 11 starts. In his last outing, Johnson allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings as Florida lost 3-1 to St. Louis on Sunday.
Johnson is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in three career starts against the Nationals, but hasn’t faced them since August 2006.
Tim Redding (10-8, 4.49), who will take the mound for Washington, has had trouble keeping the ball in the park this season. He has allowed a career-high 23 home runs, including nine in his last six outings.
Ramirez, though, is the only Marlins infielder that has homered off Redding, going 4-for-9 with one homer and two doubles.
Redding is 1-2 with a 6.20 ERA in four starts versus the Marlins this season, and 4-2 with a 3.80 ERA in nine career starts against them.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA in his last four starts overall. He gave up three runs and five hits in six innings as Washington beat Atlanta 8-5 on Saturday night.
Redding can use much more run support than Shairon Martis got Friday, when Washington left 11 on base and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. The Nationals also committed two errors, giving them five in their last three games.
“If our offense doesn’t show up we have to catch the ball,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “We continue to play poor defense.”