|Nats' Sanchez faces off with Marlins, his first team|
Anibal Sanchez broke into the majors in 2006 as a member of the Marlins, and he pitched a no-hitter that season.
Sanchez spent the first seven years of his major league with the Marlins, who were known as Florida originally and changed their moniker to Miami in 2012.
On Friday night, Sanchez -- now with the Washington Nationals -- will visit Miami. This will be Sanchez's sixth appearance (fifth start) against the Marlins, and he has a 1-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and a 19-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio against his former team.
This season, Sanchez is 0-1 with a 4.86 ERA for a Nationals team that on Thursday beat the visiting San Francisco Giants 4-2 to improve their record to 9-8.
Sean Doolittle got the final three outs for his second save of the season, allowing a run for the first time this year and watching his ERA rise to a still-impressive 0.93.
Doolittle, who has pitched in nine of Washington's first 17 games, might be rested on Friday due to his heavy workload so far.
"You can't burn him out right now," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We have to make sure we're careful with him so we have him in August and September."
The Nationals enter Miami on a two-game win streak -- their third such mini-run of the year. However, the Nationals also have endured a couple of brief losing skids, and they have yet to produce a three-game win streak or a three-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, Miami has lost 13 of its past 15 games, including the past four in a row. In addition, the Marlins enter Friday's game on a 23-inning scoreless streak.
"This is the lowest point we can reach," Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas said. "We're touching under water right now."
The Marlins will open the series by sending out left-hander Caleb Smith (1-0, 2.65 ERA), who has 21 strikeouts in 17 innings.
Smith, who will be facing the Nationals for the first time, throws hard but is also deceptive. That reflects in his 0.88 WHIP and his 18.4 hard-hit percentage -- both of those figures among best in the majors.
He will be facing a Nationals lineup that is led by third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is batting .379. In addition, the Nationals boast two young and emerging stars in the outfield: Juan Soto, who drilled 22 homers and had a .923 OPS last year as a teenager, and Victor Robles, who is off to a good start as a rookie.
Soto is 20 years old. Robles is 21.
On the other side, Miami's offense is struggling with seemingly no imminent hope for improvement. Center fielder Lewis Brinson, for example, is hitting just .194 with four RBIs in 19 games. He was benched on Wednesday but struck out as a pinch hitter. He will enter Friday in a 1-for-22 slump, including 13 strikeouts.
"As a team, we're not getting it done," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "That's going to have to change."
--Field Level Media