MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Marlins have been playing the spoiler role to perfection lately.
Max Scherzer attempts to end his misery and the Washington Nationals look to avoid a three-game sweep when they visit the red-hot Marlins on Sunday.
Scherzer, who signed a seven-year contract for $210 million in the offseason with the Nationals, is 2-6 in his last 13 starts and winless in the past seven as Washington continues to tumble out of realistic playoff contention.
The Nationals have dropped five straight since winning five in a row and have fallen 9 ½ games behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East after Saturday's 2-0 loss.
NL MVP candidate Bryce Harper is 1-for-7 with five strikeouts in the series for Washington, which is 6-0 all-time against Miami's Sunday starter Brad Hand.
The Marlins are playing some of their best baseball of the season, allowing seven runs during a four-game win streak and winning nine of their last 11.
Martin Prado is 5-for-11 with four RBIs in the past four contests for Miami.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (11-11, 3.03 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Brad Hand (4-5, 5.20)
Scherzer has allowed 27 runs in 40 innings during his winless drought and is 1-4 since the All-Star break, but has gone at least six innings in 13 of his last 16 outings.
The 31-year-old Missouri native has given up 11 homers in his last six games, including three in the loss against the New York Mets on Monday.
Prado is 8-for-16 overall versus Scherzer, who owns a 2-1 record with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against Miami in 2015.
Hand has been knocked around for 12 runs in 6 1/3 innings combined his last two starts – one of them versus the Nationals --- after winning three of his previous four outings.
The 25-year-old gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 frames against Washington in a 7-4 loss on Aug. 30.
Anthony Rendon is also 6-for-14 versus Hand, who is 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA in 18 appearances (five starts) at home in 2015.
- Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki has 2,930 career hits after recording three Saturday to tie Rogers Hornsby and Jake Beckley for 35th on the major league all-time list.
- Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman (oblique), who is 7-for-11 lifetime against Hand and boasts an 11-game hit streak overall, has missed four straight contests and remains questionable.
- Miami C J.T. Realmuto has two doubles and a pair of homers during a nine-game hitting streak.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Sports Direct Inc. contributed to this report.)
for more features.