With the first half of the season winding down, two struggling teams that were in first place less than two weeks ago will meet in St. Petersburg. The Miami Marlins have lost eight of their last nine since moving into a first place tie with the Washington Nationals in the National League East. The Marlins are coming off of a 9-game home-stand in which they finished a dismal 1-8. The Tampa Bay Rays, who have spent much of the year in first place in the American League East, are coming off of a series in which they gave up 29 runs in three games while being swept by the New York Mets at home. Miami will visit St. Petersburg to take on the Rays for three games beginning on Friday.
The Marlins enter the series with a record of 32-31 and are in fourth place in the N.L. East. Miami is seven games back of the Nationals, but just 2.5 back of the second place Mets for the final wild card spot in the National League. Tampa Bay comes in at 35-28 and have fallen from first place to third in the A.L. East. The Rays trail the New York Yankees by 2.5 games in the division. The Rays currently hold the last wild card slot in the American League. The Marlins and Rays will play night games on Friday and Saturday before concluding the series with a day game on Sunday.
Tampa Bay leads 3-0. The Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Marlins when the teams met in South Florida just last weekend. The bats came alive for Tampa Bay while the pitching stifled the Miami bats. The Rays won the three games at Marlins Park by a combined score of 22-7.
Fish Beat Beckett in Return to Miami
On Monday night, the Miami Marlins defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-1 and in the process, beat former Marlin and 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett. It was Beckett’s first return to South Florida since leaving the Marlins following the 2005 season. The Fish got to Beckett early scoring three runs in the first inning. Beckett will be forever known to Marlins’ fans for his shutout performance in Game 6 of the 2003 World Series against the Yankees.
J.J. Coming on Strong for Fish
There haven’t been many bright spots of late for the Miami Marlins, but one of them has been the resurgence of ace Josh Johnson. After an 0-3 start with a terrible ERA, Johnson has settled in nicely. In Monday’s victory, Johnson went seven strong innings allowing just one run while striking out seven. Johnson has won four of his last five decisions and has lowered his ERA to 4.27. Over his last seven starts, Johnson has posted an ERA of 2.76 while striking out 40 hitters and walking just 11.
Friday – Carlos Zambrano (MIA) 4-4, 3.55 ERA vs. Matt Moore (TB) 3-5, 4.59 ERA
Saturday – Anibal Sanchez (MIA) 3-5, 3.40 ERA vs. James Shields (TB) 7-4, 4.06 ERA
Sunday – Josh Johnson (MIA) 4-4, 4.27 ERA vs. Alex Cobb (TB) 2-3, 4.70 ERA
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