MIAMI (SportsDirect, Inc.) — The Philadelphia Phillies are trying to end an otherwise lost season on a high note and bring a four-game winning streak into the final series of the campaign. The Phillies will attempt to make it five straight when they host the Miami Marlins on Friday in the opener of a three-game series that could be impacted by weather.
Philadelphia fans can point to the fact that their team is not packing it in down the stretch as a reason to be optimistic about the future, and the Phillies kept the rival New York Mets from clinching home-field advantage in their first-round playoff series with a three-game sweep to begin the week. The future looked bright in the 3-0 finale win on Thursday, when rookie Jerad Eickhoff struck out 10 in seven innings and Darin Ruf clubbed a two-run homer. The Marlins are having a little more trouble sprinting to the finish and were swept in a three-game series at Tampa Bay to begin the week. Miami will try to snap the slide behind rookie Justin Nicolino while the Phillies tab veteran Aaron Harang for the opener.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Justin Nicolino (4-4, 4.16 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Aaron Harang (6-15, 4.86)
Nicolino is coming off one of his best outings since joining the major-league team, holding Atlanta to one run and two hits in seven innings on Saturday. The 23-year-old did not strike out a batter in that start and has yet to fan more than four in an outing. Nicolino’s major-league high of four strikeouts came against Philadelphia on Aug. 22, when he yielded two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings without factoring in the decision.
Harang is putting together a solid stretch drive with three earned runs or fewer allowed in each of his last three starts. The San Diego native surrendered two runs and five hits in six innings at Washington on Sunday but was held out of the decision when the offense exploded late in the 12-5 win. Harang’s lone win since the end of July came at Miami on Sep. 22, when he allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
1. The Marlins have reportedly interviewed Manny Acta and Bo Porter for their managerial job, which is expected to be open after the season.
2. Phillies 3B Maikel Franco (wrist) was activated from the disabled list and could play in the final weekend.
3. Miami 2B Dee Gordon needs two hits and four steals over the final weekend to mark the 13th 200-hit/60-steal campaign in MLB history.
PREDICTION: Marlins 4, Phillies 3
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