MIAMI (Sports Direct Inc.) –The Washington Nationals hope to wrap up home field in the National League Divisional series when they host the Miami Marlins in the final series of the regular season beginning Friday.
The injury-plagued Nationals knocked off Arizona 5-3 on Thursday to strengthen their chances at starting the playoffs in the nation’s capital against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bryce Harper (thumb) missed his fourth straight game Thursday to lead a group of players either out injured or being rested for the playoffs, but Anthony Rendon is warming up while going 4-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs in the last three games for Washington. The Marlins lost their last two games to the New York Mets after Monday’s emotional win, following the tragic death of star pitcher Jose Fernandez on Sunday morning. The team attended the funeral service for Fernandez on Thursday and will need three straight victories to finish over .500 for the first time since 2009. Miami leadoff batter Dee Gordon, who homered to open the game Monday, is 8-for-17 during a four-game hitting streak.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), MASN2 (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Andrew Cashner (5-11, 5.13 ERA) vs. Nationals RH A.J. Cole (1-2, 5.09)
Cashner allowed one or fewer runs in four of his last seven starts, including Sept. 23 when he limited Atlanta to one tally and three hits across five innings in a no-decision. The 30-year-old TCU product is 1-4 in 11 contests since being traded to Miami and 0-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 13 away games this season. Jayson Werth is 6-for-11 with a homer versus Cashner, who is 2-4 lifetime against Washington.
Cole was suspended five games for throwing at Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, but is appealing the ruling and is eligible to pitch on Friday. The 24-year-old Floridian has not completed more than five innings in his last four outings, including Sept. 19 at Miami when he yielded two runs over four frames. Giancarlo Stanton went deep in that game against Cole, who boasts 37 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.
1. Miami 1B Justin Bour is 6-for-9 with a pair of walks over the last three contests.
2. Washington manager Dusty Baker told reporters he expects 2B Daniel Murphy (glute strain), out since Sept. 20, to be ready for the playoffs.
3. Marlins OF Ichiro Suzuki is two games away from becoming the 57th player in major league history to participate in 2,500 contests.
PREDICTION: Marlins 6, Nationals 4
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