The Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks might not be contending for a spot in the postseason, but that hasn’t stopped each club from currently playing some of their best baseball of the year.
With each looking for a sixth straight victory, the teams open a three-game series Friday night in the nation’s capital.
Washington (37-72) has the worst record in the majors, but rallied for a 12-8 win over Florida on Thursday to sweep the Marlins and win its season-high fifth straight contest.
The Nationals, who came back from a four-run deficit to beat Florida 6-4 on Tuesday and six runs down Thursday, have 20 come-from-behind wins.
“We’ve been playing good baseball,” said Washington All-Star Ryan Zimmerman(notes), who had four hits and three RBIs on Thursday. “We don’t ever think we’re out of it, and we want to do that for the rest of the season.”
Zimmerman - one shy of matching a career high after hitting his 23rd homer - is batting .449 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in his last 13 games for the Nationals, who are batting .307 and averaging 7.2 runs in their longest undefeated stretch since winning seven in a row from Aug. 26-Sept. 1.
Zimmerman is 6 for 14 with a homer this season against Arizona (50-59), which won 11-6 in 12 innings at Pittsburgh on Thursday to improve to 6-1 on a 10-game road trip.
“Arizona’s hot right now. It seems like their whole lineup’s hitting,” Pirates manager John Russell said.
Like the Nationals, the Diamondbacks have rallied for their last two wins. They scored three times in the eighth inning for a 4-3 win over the Pirates on Wednesday and erased a three-run deficit to force extra innings in their latest contest.
Reynolds, who has a major league-leading 12 home runs since July 1, could miss this contest after leaving in the ninth Thursday with pain in his rib cage.
Outfielders Alex Romero(notes) and Gerardo Parra(notes) each had four hits for the Diamondbacks, who are batting .325 and averaging 6.4 runs during their five-game winning streak. Arizona hasn’t won six straight since winning eight in a row from April 4-12, 2008.
Parra is batting .441 in his last eight games.
Jon Garland(notes) (6-10, 4.26 ERA) looks for a second straight victory for the Diamondbacks after allowing two runs in a 5-2 win over the New York Mets on Sunday for his first complete game of the season and 10th of his career.
Balester, who’s never faced the Diamondbacks, allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings, but didn’t factor in a 5-3 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Though the Nationals won two of three at Arizona from May 8-10, the Diamondbacks have won six of their last seven games in Washington.