July 29th 2014 - Posted at 4:00 PM ET
Take Miami Marlins as underdogs (+127) on the Money Line against Washington Nationals risking 2%
(Alvarez and Strasburg must start)
The Miami Marlins will be heading into Game 2 brimming with confidence as they overcame a huge deficit and shocked the Nationals in the series opener! Miami battled back from a 6-0 deficit to 6-3 and then in the 9th inning, normally reliable closer Rafael Soriano gave up 3 runs to tie the game! Washington then sent in Jerry Blevins who gave up a walk-off hit that gave the Marlins an incredible 7-6 victory! A defeat such as that is extremely deflating and will have shaken the confidence of the team and their bullpen. This should have an overlapping effect on tonight's game for both teams.
There are few hotter teams than the Miami Marlins right now! Miami has won eight of their last nine games and are just one win away from becoming a .500 ball club, something that they haven't seen since the early part of the season. The Marlins pitching staff has turned things around during this stretch, allowing three or fewer runs in six of their last nine games and tonight they send Henderson Alvarez to the mound. Alvarez has taken over as the team's proverbial "Ace" this season since Jose Fernandez went down with a season ending injury. He has been rock solid at home, posting a 4-2 record with an excellent 1.64 ERA! Miami is 8-2 in his 10 starts at Marlins Park this season. What has been most impressive about him has been his consistency. He is a pitcher that makes very few mistakes and has a 40-9 strike out to walk ratio.
Washington will counter with their supposed "Ace" as well in Stephen Strasburg. Nicknamed "The Phenom", Strasburg has been anything but phenomenal on the road this season. In 10 road games, he is just 1-6 with an ERA of 5.09 and has lasted less than 6 innings per start on aveage! In his last start, he was rocked by the Rockies giving up 9 hits and 4 earned runs in just over 5 innings of work. Strasburg is a solid pitcher and knows how to strike batters out, but he often flirts too much with the strike zone, especially on the road which causes him to leave some balls hanging. If the Marlins are patient and can pick up on that, they will have success. Strasburg has also never been of fan of pitching to Marlins All-Star Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is 9-for-26 against him with four doubles, three home runs and eight RBI's!
Much like we had said about the Mets last night, the Marlins are in the same situation. Not out of the postseason picture yet, the time to win is now. They have a chance to be a .500 ball club tonight with a win over their division rivals. A victory would also put them just 5 games back of the lead in the NL East. Being five games back with so many games still left to play is not an impossible task and keeps this team in contention. Miami is 29-24 at home this season and has consistently performed better at Marlins Park than on the road.
A big reason behind their recent success is due to the fact that they are getting contributions from everyone on the team. Baseball is and always has been a team sport. Their winning streak isn't about Giancarlo Stanton hitting home runs and it isn't about the pitching staff throwing no-hitters on a nightly basis. It's been about getting consistent production from all with each player performing their role for the betterment of the team. Coach Mike Redmond has done an excellent job in turning this franchise around and instilling confidence in his young players. While they still have a long way to go to contend for the title, the progress made has put them in a good spot and shows the potential of this team. It was not necessarily a fluke that the Marlins won last night, more so a testament to the will and desire to play the game for all 9 innings, when the Nationals perhaps believed the game was already out of reach. This is a group with a lot of heart, tenacity and hunger and given last night's incredible comeback, they will be loose and playing with even more confidence tonight.
Tomorrow's pitching matchup will be Tanner Roark vs. Brad Hand, a matchup that will likely give the Nationals an edge on the mound. If the Marlins want to win this series, tonight would be the night to do it. Strasburg has been vulnerable on the road and given the way the Marlins are playing, they have all the momentum as well as purpose and intent. Steve Cishek (Miami closer) continues to improve while Rafael Soriano will be short on confidence if handed the ball. The value is with the capable underdog in this contest and we believe they will grab an important victory.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Marlins are 12-5 at home when the total is set at 7 or less runs this season!
- The Marlins lead the Majors in 1-run games with an impressive 25-16 record.
- Alvarez has given up only 2 homeruns at Marlins Park this season.
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