Marlins, Phillies could use help from big boppers

MIAMI -- It's never easy when you are the slugger opponents are determined to not let beat them.

That's the situation where Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton has found himself for the better part of his career, ever since he hit 22 homers in 100 games as a rookie in 2010.

And that's what has been happening to Philadelphia Phillies first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins ever since he made a spectacular entrance into the major league fraternity, slugging 11 homers in his first 14 games.

On Saturday, Stanton and Hoskins figure to again be in the lineup for the third of a four-game series as Philadelphia (51-83) takes on Miami (66-68) at Marlins Park.

The Phillies have won the first two games of the series -- both by one run -- to damage Miami's longshot playoff hopes.

Miami has scored a total of three runs in its past three games, and the Marlins have lost five games in a row, tying their worst stretch of the season.

"Our bats have fallen asleep," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Friday night.

Stanton, who leads the majors with 51 homers, is usually the guy to wake up the Marlins. But, at the moment, he is mired in a 1-for-16 slump. Teams are determined to not let Stanton beat them as evidenced by the two times he was walked Friday.

"You can't expect Giancarlo to hit a homer every time up," Mattingly said.

For a while, it seemed like that was what Hoskins was doing, but he has cooled off recently. In fact, he has gone nine games in a row without a homer.

Hoskins went 0-for-3, snapping his 13-game hit streak. But he also drew a walk, which continues a trend. In the minors this year, he drew 64 walks in 114 Triple-A games.

"It might even increase," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of the number of pitches Hoskins sees per at-bat in the majors. "When you're facing a dangerous hitter, pitchers are careful.

"In the minors, you have pitchers with lesser command. Therefore, you get more balls out of the strike zone. At the big-league level, they have better command, but they will be careful and try to miss."

Saturday's pitching matchup features Marlins right-hander Dan Straily (8-8, 3.80 ERA) against Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (10-9, 3.46), and it will be interesting to see if they go right after the aforementioned sluggers or if they pitch around them.

Straily is 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies. This year, he is 2-1 against the Phillies with a 4.08 ERA.

Nola is 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins. But in two starts against Miami this year, Nola has been hit hard, sporting a 0-2 record and a 10.61 ERA. He has allowed 14 hits and 11 runs in 9 1/3 innings.

Overall, though, this is the best of Nola's three years in the majors. The 24-year-old has already set career highs in starts (22) and wins. He is coming off an excellent start, allowing five hits, no walks and one run in seven innings, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-1.

The Phillies are 11-11 when Nola starts, which is impressive given the team's poor overall record.

Nola's splits are pretty even home and road as well as against right-handers and left-handers. And his season has been fairly consistent other than a wasted month of May, when he went 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA.

He is 8-6 since then, however.

Straily, 28, was outstanding early, going 7-4 with a 3.31 ERA in the first half of the season. Since then, though, he is 1-4 with a 4.81 ERA.

Lately, Straily seems to be on the path to improvement. The Marlins have won the past two times he has started, and Straily has allowed just five runs in 12 innings in those outings.
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