Marlins, Pirates enter weekend series with momentum

MLB

The Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates — two of the bottom four teams in the National League — are set to meet Friday night in Florida to start a three-game series.

Both teams were long ago out of playoff contention.

However, Miami (62-84) has won five of its past seven series. Pittsburgh (54-92), which on Friday will start a 10-game road trip, has won two of its past three series.

Pittsburgh will start right-hander Wil Crowe (3-7, 5.97 ERA) while Miami will counter with right-hander Elieser Hernandez (1-1, 4.14).

Crowe, a 6-2, 235-pound rookie right-hander, went 0-2 with an 11.88 ERA last year in a brief three-game trial with the Washington Nationals.

The Pirates acquired him one day before Christmas in a trade that sent first baseman Josh Bell to Washington.

Two of those three games last year came against Miami. Crowe failed to get through four innings in either of those starts, and enters with a 0-2 mark and 12.00 ERA against the Marlins.

A Tennessee native and Washington’s second-round pick out of the University of South Carolina in 2017, Crowe has worked hard this year to improve his slider.

“Get the off the heater, steal a strike early,” Crowe said of his slider goals. “But you’re not going to stun or fool a hitter with a pitch he’s never seen before. He’s seen millions of pitches.

“It’s about the execution.”

Pittsburgh is coming off a series win over Cincinnati. The Reds did win the final game of the series to salvage a potential sweep.

Meanwhile, Hernandez is 0-0 with a 5.00 ERA in three appearances against the Pirates, including two starts.

He most recently faced the Pirates on June 3. He allowed just three hits, no walks and one run in five innings but got a no-decision as the host Pirates rallied to win.

Pittsburgh won three of the four games in that early June series, including an extra inning victory on June 5 that featured a walk-off RBI single by Jacob Stallings.

Injuries have limited Hernandez to just eight starts this year. But he has been healthy since Aug. 15.

Since returning from the injured list, Hernandez is 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA in five starts.

The Marlins, who just concluded a 3-3 road trip, are feeling optimistic about rookies such as outfielders Jesus Sanchez and Bryan De La Cruz and first baseman Lewin Diaz.

All three are under the age of 25.

Sanchez hit two homers on Wednesday. Diaz did the same on Tuesday, and De La Cruz is batting .336 in 143 at-bats for his rookie year.

During the aforementioned trip, Sanchez hit .333 with five homers, one triple and 10 RBIs.

“We’ve seen power all over the place,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Sanchez, who has 12 homers in 51 games this year. “It’s good to see a guy with his power start to use the whole field.”

–Field Level Media

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