|Marlins look to keep momentum against Nationals|
The Miami Marlins' offense didn't do much in a 3-2 win over the visiting Washington Nationals on Friday night -- and the RBIs came on a groundout that became an error, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
That's not exactly an avalanche of runs, and those weren't Ruthian blasts that drove them home. But when you had entered the night having lost 13 of 15 games -- including four in a row -- the Marlins will take a win any way they can.
"It felt like it was a must win for us," said Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas, who went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. "After a couple of tough games against the (Chicago) Cubs, we couldn't do much offensively.
"But we're going to come out of here with a better attitude and a better mindset of fighting. We showed that tonight."
In fact, when the Marlins scored in the second inning on Friday, they ended a 24-inning scoring drought. And when the Marlins scored twice in the sixth, it was the first lead for the franchise in six days.
Those are some ugly numbers, and it cost hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo his job. He was fired after Friday's game, and he was replaced by Jeff Livesey, with Eric Duncan as his new assistant.
The timing of the move was a bit unusual in that it was announced after a win.
Rojas, speaking before the news on Pagliarulo broke, said Miami's hitters are determined to put forth more effort, manufacturing runs the way they did on Friday.
"Even when we didn't get a hit with the bases loaded, we got a walk and a hit by pitch," Rojas said. "And our pitching staff was great. We're not going to take punches anymore and not doing anything about it. We want to keep fighting, keep getting good at-bats. We're going to keep trying."
While the win was encouraging for Miami, the Marlins will have a steep mountain to climb on Saturday when they face three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (1-2, 3.33 ERA).
Washington has won each of the past seven times it has sent Scherzer out to face the Marlins. And, in Scherzer's past three starts against Miami, he has a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings.
Overall, Scherzer is 12-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 19 career starts against the Marlins. Last season alone, Scherzer was 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts.
However, Scherzer hasn't been as dominant as usual so far this season -- just two quality starts in four outings. The Nationals have lost three of his four starts.
Even so, there's nobody the Nationals would rather have on the mound, given his history.
"That's Max being Max," is how Nationals manager Dave Martinez frames the subject. "He's a competitor."
On the other side, the Marlins will send out fellow right-hander Jose Urena (0-3, 6.53 ERA), who has been Miami's Opening Day starter the past two years.
The Marlins have lost all four of Urena's starts this season, and batters are hitting .390 off his sinker.
Urena definitely has talent. He went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 2017, and he had a comparable 3.98 ERA last year when poor run support saddled him with a 9-12 record.
His average fastball (95.3 mph) is significantly better than the major league average (92.5).
Perhaps he will have more success against the Nationals, a team he owns a 3-2 record against, with a 3.53 ERA, in 11 career appearances, including five starts. Last year against the Nationals, Urena went 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA.
--Field Level Media