Marlins, Nats expect to score runs

Marlins, Nats expect to score runs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Saturday night’s game between the host Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins could be a high-scoring contest.

The Marlins, who are in last place in the National League East, will start left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (4-10, 5.32 ERA).

Washington, which is third in the same division, will start left-hander Tommy Milone (1-1, 5.24 ERA).

Chen has been strong at home but is 1-6 with a 10.27 ERA on the road.

Milone has a 5.54 home ERA and a 7.04 ERA at night, both ominous signs regarding Saturday’s start.

Chen will face a dangerous Nationals lineup that features six-time All-Star and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper, who is in his prime at age 25.

The Marlins also have to be wary of teen-aged sensation Juan Soto, 19, a prime candidate for Rookie of the Year.

If that’s not enough offense, the Nationals also boast shortstop Trea Turner, who leads the majors with 32 steals; third baseman Anthony Rendon, who won a Silver Slugger award in 2014; second baseman Daniel Murphy, who is a three-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2015 NLCS; catcher Matt Wieters, who is a four-time All-Star; right fielder Adam Eaton, who twice led the American League in triples; and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, a two-time All-Star.

But even with all that firepower, Murphy seems to be most impressed with Soto.

“He’s special,” Murphy told mlb.com. “His swing is so fundamentally sound that he can do damage from foul pole to foul pole. That is unique for anyone, much less a 19-year-old.

“It seems like he rarely goes out of the zone. He takes his walks and doesn’t strike out a lot. It’s really special to watch.”

The Nationals (62-61) are looking to recover from a poor 2-5 road trip.

Washington’s bullpen isn’t in great shape as six of its relievers are on the disabled list, including All-Star Sean Doolittle and set-up man Kelvin Herrera.

The Nationals are facing a slumping Marlins team. Miami (48-76) has lost 15 of its past 17 games, including a season-high-tying six straight. The Marlins have also lost 12 straight road games.

Washington’s Max Scherzer, who leads the majors with 16 wins and also tops the strikeout charts, beat the Marlins 8-2 on Friday night.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly was ejected in the fourth inning of Friday’s game after he argued a called third strike on Miami hitter Derek Dietrich. Mattingly was upset about a pair of outside pitches given to Scherzer, who clearly needs no assistance to be dominant.

“I was frustrated,” Mattingly said. “That wasn’t the whole game. … But you get tired of seeing it, and (Scherzer) doesn’t need any help, especially on two 3-2 (counts). It wasn’t fun to watch.”

The Nationals slugged two homers on Friday — solo shots by Zimmerman and Wieters — and took advantage of a pair of Marlins errors.

Rookie left fielder Austin Deal was a bright spot for Miami, making his first major league a solo home run.

“It was good to see him get his first hit,” Mattingly said of Dean. “He’s had a good season (in the minors). The ball jumps off his bat. He is short to the ball. He has a chance to have success here.”

Nationals hope to build on win vs. Marlins

Nationals hope to build on win vs. Marlins

MIAMI — The Washington Nationals woke up Thursday with a losing record, nine games off the lead in a division they were supposed to dominate.

Washington (61-61), which sits third in the National League East, visits the last-place Miami Marlins (48-75) on Friday. The Nationals lost four games in a row before a win Thursday, while Miami has dropped five straight.

After a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Nationals players sat in their clubhouse, searching for answers.

“We’re trying to figure out how not to miss pitches,” Nationals shortstop Trea Turner told The Washington Post. “If you get pitches to hit, you have to take advantage.”

On Friday, the Nationals will try to take advantage of Marlins right-hander Dan Straily (4-5, 4.42 ERA). His road ERA of 3.93 is about one run better than his home mark of 4.94.

Straily faced the Nationals earlier this year — on July 26 inside Marlins Park — and picked up a no-decision. He allowed five hits, including a pair of homers, as well as three walks and three runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Max Scherzer, who pitched seven scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday gets the start Friday. Scherzer is starting on his normal four days of rest.

Scherzer is 15-5 with a 2.19 ERA, and he is one of the favorites to win the Cy Young award this season. Scherzer, a 34-year-old right-hander, has already won three Cy Young awards and is a six-time All-Star.

He is 10-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 17 starts versus the Marlins, including 3-0, 3.43 this season.

Miami, meanwhile, enters the weekend with a tired bullpen. Wednesday’s starter, Jose Urena, was ejected after his first pitch hit Ronald Acuna in the elbow. Urena was suspended six games for the incident. Acuna had homered in five straight games, including four long balls in the first three games of the Braves’ sweep.

After Urena was ejected, the Marlins bullpen had to cover eight innings.

“It worked out terrible for our team,” Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “We’ve been taxed the past week. Guys have been used a lot, and having to throw eight innings (of relief) when Jose would usually pitch six or seven innings, really taxed our bullpen.”

Perhaps the day off Thursday will help Miami’s bullpen get the rest they need, but they can ill afford a short outing from Straily.

Washington’s bullpen isn’t in great shape either. Six of its relievers are on the disabled list, including All-Star Sean Doolittle and set-up man Kelvin Herrera.

Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper is the focal point of Washington’s offense. The 25-year-old impending free agent leads Washington in homers (30) and RBIs (74) and ranks second in OPS (.889).

Rookie left fielder Juan Soto leads Washington in OPS (.962) and is batting .298 with 17 doubles and 15 home runs in 76 games. Soto, by the way, is just 19 years old.

The Nationals also have speed as Turner leads the way with 32 steals and outfielder Michael A. Taylor has 24 swipes.

Washington players who have OPS numbers north of .800 and should be available Friday include Harper, Soto, first baseman Matt Adams, second baseman Daniel Murphy, third baseman Anthony Rendon and infielders Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds.

Miami, meanwhile, has three starters on the disabled list: third baseman Martin Prado, center fielder Lewis Brunson and pitcher Caleb Smith.

Realmuto leads the Marlins with an .855 OPS. No one else on the team is above .800, with first baseman Derek Dietrich second at .764.

Marlins' Jose Urena suspended 6 games for hitting Braves' Ronald Acuna

Marlins' Jose Urena suspended 6 games for hitting Braves' Ronald Acuna

Marlins pitcher Jose Urena has been suspended six games and fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally hitting Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves with a pitch.

Major League Baseball announced the penalties Thursday, a day after Urena hit Acuna on the left arm with his first pitch in the Marlins’ 5-2 loss in Atlanta. The 20-year-old Acuna went into the game having homered in five straight games, including four homers in the three games against Miami — three of them leading off.

The 25-year-old Urena, from the Dominican Republic, is 3-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 24 starts. Unless appealed, the suspension is scheduled to begin Friday at Washington.

Also, Braves first base coach Eric Young was suspended one game and fined.

Acuna was back in the lineup for the Braves on Thursday night against Colorado. The training staff signed off on Acuna returning after a CT scan on his elbow was normal. X-rays also were negative.

Marlins' Jose Ureña suspended six games for plunking Ronald Acuña Jr.

Marlins' Jose Ureña suspended six games for plunking Ronald Acuña Jr.

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Major League Baseball has suspended Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña six games for hitting rookie phenom Ronald Acuña with his first pitch of the game Wednesday night, Joe Torre, chief baseball officer for Major League Baseball announced on Thursday..

Ureña was also fined an undisclosed amount.

Acuña had hit a leadoff home run in each of his three previous games when he stepped to the plate against the Marlins right-hander in the bottom of the first inning.

Ureña threw a 97 mph fastball directly at Acuña, hitting him on the left elbow.

After both benches emptied, Ureña and Braves manager Brian Snitker were ejected. Acuña remained in the game momentarily, but exited in the top of the second inning.

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In addition, Braves first base coach Eric Young has received a one-game suspension and a fine for his actions during the incident.

Since the Marlins have an off day, Ureña’s suspension is scheduled to take effect on Friday, unless he files an appeal.

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José Ureña fined and suspended six games for throwing at Ronald Acuña

José Ureña fined and suspended six games for throwing at Ronald Acuña

Major League Baseball announced that Marlins starter José Ureña has been fined and suspended six games for throwing at Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña at the start of Wednesday night’s game in Atlanta. Ureña threw a 97.5 MPH fastball that hit Acuña on the left elbow. Acuña initially stayed in the game but exited before the start of the second inning.

Braves first base coach Eric Young, Sr. was also suspended one game and will serve that tonight when the Braves play the Rockies.

As I wrote yesterday, MLB needed to make an example out of Ureña. The Marlins will simply push back his next scheduled start by one day and it will be like he was never suspended at all. In fact, when all is said and done, Yasiel Puig will have done more time for pushing Nick Hundley than Ureña for throwing a weapon 97.5 MPH at Acuña. As long as pitchers don’t miss any legitimate time, this type of “revenge” will continue. Acuña’s only crime was playing the game of baseball well.

Former Marlins president defends Jose Urena for HBP on Braves' Ronald Acuna

Former Marlins president defends Jose Urena for HBP on Braves' Ronald Acuna

On Wednesday night in Atlanta, tempers flared between the Marlins and the Braves after rookie star Ronald Acuna was hit on the elbow by a 97.5 mph fastball from Miami starter Jose Urena.  It was the hardest pitch Urena has ever throw in the majors to start the game. Urena was ejected and Acuna, who entered the game with eight homers in eight games and had been tormenting the Marlins recently, thankfully dodged a serious injury.

We’ve covered this from several different angles and here’s yet another. On Thursday, CBS Sports HQ baseball analyst — also former Marlins president — David Samson said, “I loved what [Urena] did.” 

Here’s more from Samson’s appearance on CBS Sports HQ (video above):

“When you’re facing someone who is that hot, you’ve gotta get him uncomfortable. You’ve gotta get his feet moving.” 

Samson does believe that it was intentional but that Urena — who is “wild to begin with” — should have hit Acuna in a better spot. 

“Should he have hit him in the numbers or in the tushy, yes. I don’t like where he got him.” 

Samson went on to say that the Marlins should have started the game with a reliever, hit Acuna, seen the reliever get ejected and then went to Urena as if it was his “start” then. 

Urena is likely facing a suspension for the bench-clearing incident.