Thanks in large part to their outstanding pitching, the Florida Marlins have matched the best start in franchise history. Visits to Cincinnati, however, haven’t gone well for Florida’s staff in recent years.
Florida’s 3.06 ERA is tied for the NL lead with San Diego, and the Marlins have posted a 2.54 ERA in winning 10 of 13 to climb within a half-game of first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
The only other time the Marlins (15-8) won 15 of their first 23 games was 2004.
“Everything starts with the pitching,” manager Edwin Rodriguez told the team’s official website. “On any particular day you come to the ballpark, you know you have a chance of winning. We feel very comfortable playing those close games.”
The Marlins, though, haven’t come close to this season’s level of pitching success in recent visits to Cincinnati. Florida has posted a 6.31 ERA - 6.69 from the rotation - in going 2-13 in its last 15 at Great American Ball Park.
The Marlins are looking at three games against the Reds (13-12) and their subsequent series at St. Louis as a measuring stick.
“These are teams that make it to the postseason; one of them, at least,” first baseman Gaby Sanchez(notes) said. “We’re playing against good pitching staffs and good teams. It’s basically going out there and playing our baseball.”
Florida failed to complete a sweep of Los Angeles on Wednesday, as the Dodgers overcame a 4-0 deficit and won 5-4 on an Andre Ethier(notes) homer off Brian Sanches(notes) in the 10th - the first in 11 games off a Marlins reliever.
Vazquez (1-2, 6.52 ERA) will try to help Florida bounce back, though he has yet to match the strong work of his rotation mates.
He’s walked 16 in 19 1-3 innings, and five walks hurt him Saturday, when he gave up three runs despite allowing only four hits over six innings of a 3-1 loss to Colorado.
It was the fifth home run for Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter, who has a solid .352 on-base percentage despite being one of the major leagues’ strikeout leaders with 27.
“He’s an impact player,” manager Dusty Baker told the Reds’ official website. “You see he can win the game with a homer. He’s trying to cut down on strikeouts. When that happens, he’ll really be a mega player.”
The Marlins might not have their leadoff hitter Friday. Chris Coghlan(notes), hitting .357 with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last seven games, left Wednesday with tendinitis in his right shoulder. He’s day to day.
He held St. Louis to three runs over 6 1-3 innings but didn’t get the decision in a 5-3 victory Saturday.