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(Fallen) stars are aligning for Miami Marlins

If ever the Marlins were going to make a move and jump into the playoff picture, now would seem to be the time. Their next nine games are against three of the lousiest four teams in the majors in terms of their won-loss records, and all three are in weakened states due to injuries to their biggest stars.

Up first, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The D-Backs arrive for a four-game series that begins tonight at Marlins Park. Though they took two of three from the Marlins last month, that was when Arizona had All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who went 4 for 10 with four walks in that series. Goldschmidt has since had his hand broken and is out for the season, joining eight other D-Backs on the disabled list.

The Texas Rangers will arrive next for a mini two-game set. Already battered by injuries, the Rangers announced pitching ace Yu Darvish was going on the 15-day disabled list. Before he got hurt, Darvish was lined up to pitch the second of the two games against the Marlins. Now it appears that task will fall to Robbie Ross.

After Texas, it's off to Denver, where the Marlins will face the Rockies for a three-game series. The Rockies, who are already playing without Carlos Gonzalez, announced yesterday that MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki is done for the season due to a hip injury requiring surgery.

The Marlins begin the day two games below .500 (59-61), seven games behind the division-leading Nationals and 4 1/2 games back in the N.L. wild card race.

In your opinion, how must the Marlins fare over the coming nine games before you'd label them as "contenders?" 6-3? 7-2? 9-0? Or is it already too late?

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