The Florida Marlins are confident they can contend for a postseason berth. A new addition could be a key piece in helping them earn that spot.
Acquired at the trade deadline, first baseman Nick Johnson(notes) is expected to make his debut for the surging Marlins as they try for a second straight victory over the visiting Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
Hours before Florida (54-49) beat Chicago 5-2 in Friday’s series opener, the Marlins traded pitching prospect Aaron Thompson to Washington for the eight-year veteran. After injuries limited him to 38 games the previous two seasons, Johnson hit .295 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 98 games for the last-place Nationals this year.
“It was just a good day all around for us,” said infielder Wes Helms(notes), who had a two-run double in the eighth inning. “We got a professional hitter, and a professional guy in the clubhouse. It will lift these guys’ spirits. It lets them know we’re trying to get better and the front office wants to win this year.”
Florida has won eight of 10, but is still a distant second behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East. The Marlins, though, are very much in the crowded mix for the wild card spot.
Johnson, in the final season of a three-year, $16.5 million deal, will hit second ahead of All-Star Hanley Ramirez(notes). Jorge Cantu(notes), who hit his 11th homer Friday, will move from first to third base.
Zambrano allowed one run and three hits in seven innings of a 5-1, 13-inning victory over Houston on Monday.
The right-hander, who is 3-0 with a 2.92 ERA in his last four outings, is 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 10 starts versus the Marlins. He beat them on May 3, allowing two runs in five innings of a 6-4 win.
Aramis Ramirez(notes) had two hits and Jake Fox(notes) homered in his second straight game Friday for the Cubs (54-47), who lost for the fifth time in 18 games. They had totaled 24 runs in their previous two games to close a 6-1 homestand.
While Fox has driven in five runs in his last three games, Ramirez is batting .515 (17 for 33) with 12 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
The Cubs are expected to face Florida’s Burke Badenhop(notes) (5-4, 3.46), a reliever who allowed one run in five innings to beat Philadelphia in his only start on May 27. The right-hander is making his first appearance since returning from a three-game suspension for hitting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Orlando Hudson(notes) with a pitch Sunday.
Badenhop is 2-3 with a 6.18 ERA in nine career starts. His lone appearance against the Cubs came in relief and he took the loss, allowing four runs and recording only two outs in an 8-6 defeat May 1.