Following a disappointing road trip, the Florida Marlins - owners of the league’s best home record over the past two months - have benefited from returning to Miami for 10 games.
Facing the slumping New York Mets has also helped.
The Marlins seek their first sweep in five years over the injury-plagued Mets, who are trying to avoid dropping six straight games for the first time in four seasons.
After losing four times on a six-game road trip, Florida (67-59) has returned home to win the first two games of this series. The Marlins, an NL-best 21-8 at home since June 20, defeated the Mets 5-3 on Wednesday to pull within 4 1/2 games of wild card-leading Colorado.
Florida, which hosts San Diego for three games beginning Friday and Atlanta for four starting Monday, is led by an offense batting a major league-best .306 in August. Ronny Paulino(notes) and Cody Ross(notes) each stepped up Wednesday, when Paulino hit a two-run homer and Ross had a two-run triple.
“That’s what’s nice about this team right now - everyone is doing their part,” said Ross, batting .444 with five RBIs in his last seven home games.
Ross and the Marlins now have a chance to sweep the Mets for the first time since winning four in a row Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2004, at Shea Stadium.
While Florida is making a push for the playoffs, New York (57-70) is simply trying to finish the season with enough healthy bodies to fill its roster.
Oliver Perez(notes) landed on the disabled list with a season-ending knee injury Wednesday, becoming the 13th Mets player on the DL. That news came one day after New York, which has not lost six in a row since Sept. 5-10, 2005, announced staff ace Johan Santana(notes) and reliever J.J. Putz(notes) would miss the remainder of the season.
“This is the year for this to happen,” manager Jerry Manuel said before Wednesday’s loss. “We’ve got to get it done and move forward, and hopefully we’ll have some healthier days coming.”
The Mets, who had demoted Redding to the bullpen, re-inserted him into the rotation following the release of Livan Hernandez(notes). In his first start since July 2, Redding gave up one hit and three walks in five scoreless innings Saturday against Philadelphia, though the right-hander didn’t get a decision in the 4-1 loss.
Redding was tagged for a season-high seven runs and eight hits in four innings of a 7-3 loss to the Marlins on May 30. He is 1-5 with an 8.73 ERA in seven starts against them since the start of last season.
Ramirez, who finished with three hits Wednesday, is 8 for 16 with three home runs and three doubles lifetime against Redding, while Hermida is 10 for 17 with one homer and four doubles against him.
After being activated from the 60-day DL to make his first start since June 2, Sanchez allowed one run and two hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of Friday’s 5-3 win over Atlanta. The right-hander, returning from a sprained right shoulder, held the Braves hitless through 5 1-3 innings.
It was Sanchez’s best start since he gave up four hits in five shutout innings against the Mets on April 10. Things didn’t go as smoothly in New York on April 27, when he permitted six runs and eight hits in six innings of a 7-1 loss.