With all due respect to Stephen Strasburg, who climbs the hill tonight for the Nationals, the upcoming schedule for the Marlins is much easier than the one they've just traversed -- at least based on the won-loss records of their opponents.
The Marlins play 13 of their next 16 games -- and 32 of their final 52 overall -- against teams with losing records. So far this season, the Marlins have gone 24-17 (.585) against losing teams as opposed to 30-39 (.435) against winning ones.
But, all things being equal, even the softer schedule ahead shouldn't be enough to catapult the Marlins into the thick of playoff contention, not if the earlier trends continue. Based on their winning percentages against winners and losers, the Marlins (54-56 currently) should end up right at .500 or slightly above. That doesn't mean they can't sneak into the picture. But, in order to do so, they're going to have to figure out a way to start beating the good teams. Specifically, they have to better against the the Braves and Phillies, who they face 16 times the rest of the way.
The Marlins have gone 4-5 against Atlanta this season and 4-7 against Philadelphia.
SPEAKING OF STRASBURG.....It's a hot one in the nation's capital with the thermometer hitting 99 degrees here today. It'll be interesting to see how young Mr. Strasburg handles the heat, though it's not like he hails from Maine or northern Montana. The Marlins will be the first team to face him twice. When Strasburg beat the Marlins on July 16, they had him on the ropes early. He survived a shaky first inning in which he walked a pair of batters and threw 34 pitches. But he then hit the cruise control button and got through six scoreless before calling it a day. Cody Ross, who had one of the Marlins' three hits -- all singles -- against Strasburg, said he lived up to the hype.
"I thought he's one of the better pitchers I've ever faced," Ross said. "I'd seen his stuff on TV -- the electric curveball, electric fastball and the changeup. To actually see it first-hand, it's just as impressive. So he lived up to the hype for sure."
Strasburg is emerging from a DL stint due to a bout with shoulder inflammation and the Nationals plan on holding him to 90 pitches or less.
By the way, Cody Ross and Gaby Sanchez return to the lineup tonight:
Marlins: 1. Hanley Ramiez, ss; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Cody Ross, cf; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Wes Helms, 3b; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.
UNOFFICIAL TOUR OF D.C.
There are plenty of attractions -- Smithsonian, Washington Monument, Vietnam War Memorial -- that are worth checking out when you're up this way. But the two pictured below are off the beaten path and not found on many tourist maps:
The photo on top shows the exact spot (stall #32) in the parking garage where Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward (of Woodward and Bernstein fame) hooked up with Deep Throat for clandestine 2 a.m. meetings during coverage of the Watergate scandal. The photo below it, taken in Georgetown, shows the stairs (75 steep steps, let me tell you) where the priest tumbled in the movie "The Exorcist." Coincidently, the movie came out in 1973 -- during the thick of the Watergate scandal. Don't know if there's a connection there, but....