The Florida Marlins’ chances of winning the NL East took a hit with a poor showing against the majors’ worst team.
Another effort like that this weekend against the first-place Philadelphia Phillies could essentially end their division hopes.
The Marlins try to bounce back from a disappointing series and cut into the Phillies’ lead as they open a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.
Florida (55-53) arrives in Philadelphia after suffering a three-game sweep at lowly Washington. The Marlins yielded 23 runs in the series and allowed the Nationals to rally from a six-run deficit in Thursday’s 12-8 loss, causing them to drop seven games back of the Phillies (61-45).
Florida entered the Washington series five games out of first after winning nine of 12.
Getting back on track won’t be that easy, though.
The Phillies, who swept a three-game series at Florida from July 16-19, are coming off Thursday’s 3-1 win over Colorado for their second straight victory.
Rollins has keyed the surge at home, batting .345 with six home runs, nine doubles, 21 RBIs and 21 runs in the last 20 games in Philadelphia. He also went 6 for 16 (.375) with two doubles in the sweep at Florida after the All-Star break.
“He’s staying short and quick,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s staying strong through the ball and his swing isn’t underneath.”
While trying to shut down Rollins and the high-powered Philadelphia offense, which leads the NL with 560 runs, won’t be easy for the Marlins, neither will be scoring on scheduled starter Joe Blanton(notes) (7-5, 4.02 ERA).
Blanton put together another solid outing Saturday at San Francisco, but didn’t get any help from his offense. The right-hander gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 2-0 loss, his first defeat since June 24 at Tampa Bay. He is still 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA in his last five starts and 5-2 with a 2.33 ERA in his last 12.
Despite playing his home games at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, Blanton has been at his best there. He is 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven home starts since yielding six runs in a loss to Atlanta on May 9. Hosting the Marlins on May 26, Blanton allowed five hits while striking out a career-high 11 in seven scoreless innings of a 5-3 win.
He has posted a 3.18 ERA in winning all three career starts versus Florida.
Nolasco allowed one run and four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings of a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, but did not get a decision.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last three starts and has yielded two earned runs or fewer in nine of his last 11. One of the subpar outings in that stretch came against the Phillies, though.
Nolasco gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 6-5, 12-inning home win over Philadelphia on July 17. He is 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA in five starts against the Phillies since the start of last season.