On a much-needed three-game winning streak, the Washington Nationals still find themselves in a deep hole, entering this week trailing the National League East-leading New York Mets by 16 games.
The Nationals will try to extend their run Tuesday night as they visit the Miami Marlins in a matchup between the two worst teams in the NL East.
The Nationals are powered by superstar right fielder Juan Soto, who leads the team in homers (12) and OPS (.831). He’s also a spiritual leader for the Nationals.
“In the dugout,” Soto said this past weekend, “I tell the guys to keep good energy.”
The Marlins have won five of six games against the Nationals this year. Miami won the first five games in the season series, holding Washington to a total of just eight runs.
On Tuesday, the Marlins will start rookie Edward Cabrera after he made his season debut Wednesday with six impressive innings.
Despite pitching in high altitude at Colorado, Cabrera held the Rockies to one hit and no runs while striking out nine. It was Cabrera’s first major league win after going 0-3 in seven starts last year.
Cabrera said he dedicated his win to his aunt, who passed away last month.
“I always felt she was there. She was with me during the whole game,” Cabrera said in Spanish. “It was very special.”
Cabrera has faced the Nationals once last season, in his major league debut on Aug. 25. He allowed four hits, three walks and three runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Marlins won that game 4-3 but then lost Cabrera’s next six starts.
Despite starting this year on the injured list, Cabrera, 24, was ranked as Miami’s fourth-best prospect, according to Baseball America.
The Marlins, who have not won a series since taking two of three from the Nationals May 16-18, appear to be improving offensively.
Second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. leads the Marlins in RBIs (31) and steals (nine). Designated hitter Garrett Cooper leads the regulars in OPS (.835) and batting average (.302). And left fielder Jorge Soler ranks first in homers (11).
Washington, which has not named its starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game, is led in RBIs by first baseman Josh Bell (31). Second baseman Cesar Hernandez and third baseman Maikel Franco are tied for the team lead in doubles (14).
The Nationals are also counting on veterans like designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who turns 42 on July 1, and Franco, 29, who is on his fourth team in the past four years.
Washington has placed major hopes in catcher Keibert Ruiz, 23, who is in his first full year in the majors. Ruiz, who was acquired in the deal that sent both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, is batting .255 with one homer and a .674 OPS.
In addition, Washington’s Luis Garcia, 22, is getting a shot at shortstop due to Alcides Escobar’s hamstring injury. In five games this year, Garcia is hitting .368 with an .824 OPS.
–Field Level Media