With nothing to lose, Florida played the role of spoiler to perfection against the New York Mets each of the last two seasons. Faced with much more meaningful games this year, the Marlins may not be nearly as relaxed.
Looking to boost their playoff chances, the Marlins face a Mets team that will be looking to exact revenge Friday night at Land Shark Stadium.
Florida (82-71) knocked New York (65-88) out of playoff contention on the final day in each of the past two seasons. The Marlins finished below .500 both years, but played a big role as the Mets suffered consecutive disappointments in seasons of lofty expectations.
This year, it was injuries that derailed a promising season for New York, but it has an opportunity to turn the tables and deal a blow to Florida’s postseason hopes.
The Marlins won their last two games over NL East-leading Philadelphia and are within reach of Colorado in the wild-card race. Florida gained ground on the Rockies on Wednesday night, as pinch-hitter Brett Carroll(notes) capped a two-run rally in the ninth inning with an RBI single in a 7-6 win over the Phillies.
The victory was the Marlins’ 82nd, guaranteeing them their first winning season since they went 83-79 in 2005.
Improved starting pitching would certainly help Florida’s playoff chances. Marlins starters gave up at least four runs in three of the last four games.
The right-hander gave up two runs and struck out 10 in seven innings to beat Cincinnati 3-2 on Saturday night.
Nolasco is 3-6 with a 6.49 ERA in 12 starts versus the Mets.
New York will counter with Tim Redding(notes) (3-6, 5.25), who is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six outings since returning to the rotation. The right-hander won last start, allowing two runs in seven innings of a 3-2 victory over Washington on Saturday.
Redding has gone 5-6 with a 5.65 ERA in 14 starts against the Marlins.
New York has been giving its pitchers little support, scoring three runs or fewer 10 times in 16 games. The Mets have lost nine of 11 and 13 of 16.
“The losing is really difficult. It takes a lot out of you,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “You’re not playing for anything, but there is still a level of pride. You try to still give your fans hope that things will be OK.”
Wright’s next start will give him the club record for games at third base with 836. He is tied with Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson.
Wright has batted .200 in 11 games against Florida this year. The Marlins lead the season series 10-5.