Nationals-Marlins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 13, 2012
The Miami Marlins were expected to be one of the clubs atop the NL East at the All-Star break. Instead, the Washington Nationals hold that position. The Marlins aren't even .500 and are much closer to last place than first. Four straight home games against the first-place Nationals gives the Marlins a golden opportunity to gain ground and they'll look to take advantage starting Friday night. Hiring manager Ozzie Guillen combined with a spending spree that delivered shortstop Jose Reyes, starter Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell, while opening a new ballpark made the Marlins (41-44) a fashionable pick to win the NL East. They're not even close. Miami is fourth in the division, nine games back of Washington (49-34), which is aiming to reach the postseason for the first time since it was the Montreal Expos in 1981. "Yes, I'm disappointed," Guillen told the team's official website. "I should be. I think we're a better club than what we were playing. I'm not managing this club for .500. I think we're better than a .500 club." The Marlins have been streaky, going 21-8 in May to set a team record for wins in a month. However, they followed that up by dropping 22 of the next 34 heading into the All-Star break. "We've been either very hot or very cold," Guillen said. "I think being inconsistent has been a big part of the problem. I wish every time we went out there, we would be more consistent." That may be tough with Giancarlo Stanton - the Marlins' lone All-Star - out for at least a month after arthroscopic right knee surgery. The right fielder leads the team with 19 homers and 50 RBIs and Miami fell 5-4 at St. Louis in its first game without him Sunday. Increased production from Reyes would help. The NL batting champion last year with a career-high .337 average for the New York Mets, Reyes is hitting .264 with 20 stolen bases. The Marlins are hitting .242, ahead of only San Diego's league-worst .234 average. That may not matter with Josh Johnson (5-5, 4.06 ERA) scheduled to face the Nationals. The right-hander is 8-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 16 games against them, including a 5-3 home victory May 30. He allowed three runs in six innings to help Miami complete a three-game sweep. Johnson is 5-0 with a 2.33 ERA in nine home starts against Washington, and 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three overall outings at Marlins Park. The Nationals entered the break with two losses in three games against Colorado for their first series loss against an NL opponent since that three-game sweep at Miami in May. "We have a great team. We have a lot of guys on this team that everybody likes and the game of baseball likes and the fans like," right fielder Bryce Harper told the team's official website. "It's an exciting time for us and an exciting time for the fans. It's a lot of fun to come to this clubhouse every day." Unlike the Marlins, Harper is living up to the hype. The 19-year-old rookie is hitting .282 with eight homers, 25 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He walked and struck out in Tuesday's All-Star game after replacing Stanton on the roster. Runs could be hard to come by in this game with Jordan Zimmermann (5-6, 2.61) opposing Johnson. Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts and hasn't allowed more than three runs in his last seven outings. The right-hander, though, hasn't been nearly that sharp in six starts against the Marlins, going 0-3 with a 4.81 ERA.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

LeBron James says Kevin Love-Celtics trade rumor is false

Michael Jordan gifts Kobe Bryant full set of Air Jordans

Bethune-Cookman football player killed at party

Former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman dead at 44

WATCH: Chelsea scores three goals in less than 20 minutes

Broncos safety Shiloh Keo arrested for DUI


Mountain West admits error, says Boise St. shot was good

WATCH: John Calipari loses his mind, gets ejected

Former Clemson star Tajh Boyd to speak at John Kasich rally

Peyton Manning's alleged not-so-wholesome image

Hawks not shopping Al Horford at NBA trade deadline

Report: Lincecum has been throwing in secret location

Ejected John Calipari tweets “they don’t need me and I love it”

Popovich would 'buy ticket' to watch Warriors play

Jamal Murray destroyed South Carolina defender with dunk

WATCH: Lon Kruger gets Oklahoma hoops squad hype for Kansas test

Texas signee glad he didn’t pick Texas A&M after alleged racism

Dallas Stars have passed the early tests in February

Could Matt Forte become the revival for Patriots run game?

Are the Celtics legimate contenders in the East?

WATCH: Jabari Parker is no joke at NBA Rising Stars Challenge

How Marvelous Marv Throneberry became a Met

WATCH: Filip Forsberg goes beast on Lightning with this goal

Carmelo Anthony on trade rumors: ‘I’m not going anywhere’

Report: Cavaliers shopping Kevin Love, price tag very high

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker