The Florida Marlins knew that after dropping the final two games of their three-game weekend series, it would be difficult for them to have any chance to capture the wild card.
After losing a makeup game Monday, it’ll be nearly impossible.
With their postseason hopes fading fast, the Marlins will need to continue their dominance of the Washington Nationals on Tuesday when the teams open a three-game set in the nation’s capital.
Florida (81-75) was 10 games out of the wild card Sept. 9, but ran off nine straight wins to pull within 4 1/2 games of Philadelphia heading into Saturday. With a chance to narrow the gap further, however, the Marlins lost the final two games of their series against the Phillies.
Those wins pushed Philadelphia into the NL East lead over New York, so Florida entered the final week of the season trailing the Mets by five games in the wild-card chase - with Milwaukee and Houston also in the Marlins’ way.
Florida’s playoff chances further dimmed Monday, when they played a makeup game in Cincinnati. The Marlins grabbed a 4-0 lead after three innings on home runs from Jeremy Hermida and Josh Willingham, but gave up six runs in the seventh and lost 7-5.
“It’s tough trying to rebound from those two games (against the Phillies),” starter Ricky Nolasco said after giving up three runs in six innings. “Just coming in here for the day and losing that way definitely hurts.”
The Marlins will continue on the road for their final six games, starting with three against the league-worst Nationals (58-98) before heading to New York for the final three regular-season games at Shea Stadium. Florida is 36-39 on the road this season.
The matchup with the Nationals, however, should work in the Marlins’ favor. As bad as Washington has been this season, it’s been at its worst against Florida.
The Nationals are 2-13 versus the Marlins in 2008, and have been outscored 47-21 while losing all six games at Nationals Park.
Washington, 14th in the 16-team NL in ERA and runs scored, has to go 5-1 the rest of the way to avoid the franchise’s first 100-loss season since 1976.
“If we win out and only lose 98, it’s still a horrible season to our standards, compared to if we lose 104,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, second on the team with 13 homers despite missing 52 games. “I think it’s to the point now where it’s been a disappointing season.”
Zimmerman homered Sunday and drove in the Nationals’ only runs in a 6-2 loss to San Diego, which completed a three-game sweep in a matchup of the league’s worst teams.
Florida’s Scott Olsen (8-10, 4.20 ERA) has won his last two starts after going 0-6 with a 5.74 ERA in his previous nine outings. He gave up one run and three hits over seven innings, striking out seven, in an 8-1 victory over Houston on Thursday.
Olsen is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts against Washington this season. He allowed one run in six innings of 2-1 home win over the Nationals on Sept. 12.
The Nats will counter with rookie Shairon Martis (0-3, 6.23), who’s lost all three of his major league starts. Martis, 21, gave up six runs in three innings Wednesday in a 9-7 defeat to the Mets.
He opposed Olsen on Sept. 12, giving up two runs - one earned - in five innings while striking out nine.