On May 15, Florida was the surprise leader of the NL East. Now set to make up a game originally scheduled for that day, the Marlins’ postseason hopes are virtually done.
The low-budget Marlins, who became unexpected contenders, seem resigned to missing the playoffs again as they face the Cincinnati Reds on Monday in a makeup game.
Florida’s meeting with Cincinnati (72-83) on May 15 was postponed because of poor weather, called two hours before it was supposed to start because of steady showers. The Marlins (81-74), who had by far the lowest opening-day payroll at $22 million, were in first place in the NL East after games that day.
But Philadelphia and the New York Mets - two high spenders - pulled away late, and Florida is now 6 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Phillies with seven games remaining. The Marlins, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2003, also trail the Mets by five games in the wild-card race.
Florida made a strong push late, tying a team record with nine straight wins before losing two in a row to surging Philadelphia. The Marlins lost the finale of a three-game series with the Phillies 5-2 on Sunday.
Ricky Nolasco (15-7, 3.52 ERA), whose breakout season has played a large role in Florida’s success, will start Monday. He has won his last four decisions, and is 5-1 with a 2.67 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings as Florida beat Houston 14-2 on Wednesday night.
Nolasco is 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance all-time against the Reds.
It’s uncertain if All-Star Hanley Ramirez will be behind Nolasco at shortstop. Ramirez, who strained his left shoulder in Houston on Wednesday, took batting practice Sunday and is hoping to be back in the lineup Monday, according to the Marlins’ official Web site.
Ramirez is batting .298 with 32 home runs, 119 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. He plans to work on his defense in the offseason, considering playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
“I have to get better and I’m going to get better,” he said.
Ramirez is batting .429 (6-for-14) with three home runs and a double against Aaron Harang (5-16, 4.70), who will take the mound for the Reds.
Harang has had a very disappointing season, but he has been outstanding in recent weeks. He is 2-3 with a 1.93 ERA in his last six starts, getting an average of 2.0 runs to work with in his last five outings. The veteran right-hander is coming off his best start of the season, pitching a six-hitter in a 3-0 win over St. Louis on Wednesday night.
Harang, though, has gone 1-1 with an 8.03 ERA in two starts versus the Marlins this season, surrendering five home runs. He is 2-2 with a 6.98 ERA in seven career starts against them.