With Ricky Nolasco on the mound, the Marlins have to feel even better about their chances.
Nolasco will try to extend a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he takes the ball in the series opener Friday night.
Florida's longest road trip of the season includes a rescheduled doubleheader at Philadelphia next Thursday but begins on the other side of Pennsylvania, with the Marlins looking to win their sixth straight over Pittsburgh. They've won 11 of 13 between the teams, blanking the Pirates five times.
Two of those shutouts came in a three-game sweep in April - Florida outscored the Pirates 21-5 - and Nolasco (9-10, 4.39 ERA) started one of them. He gave up four hits and struck out eight over seven innings of a 6-0 win April 20.
Nolasco has won his last three starts against Pittsburgh while pitching 21 scoreless innings, walking four and striking out 29.
A meeting with the Pirates may be what Nolasco needs to end a four-start winless streak. After allowing 11 runs in three innings of a loss to Colorado on Aug. 17, he's given up four runs in three straight outings but lasted at least six innings in each.
Florida (63-79) has lost its last two following a three-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh (66-77), meanwhile, has won consecutive series for the first time since mid-July. The Pirates took two of three from Houston this week, winning 5-4 on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh will hand the ball to Ross Ohlendorf (0-1, 6.35), looking for his first win since July 2, 2010, against the Phillies. He is 0-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 14 starts since.
The right-hander is making his fourth start since returning from a shoulder strain that kept him sidelined most of the season. He's pitched 14 innings since returning, including four in a 7-5 win over Chicago on Saturday. Ohlendorf gave up three runs and seven hits.
He's 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts against the Marlins.
Right-hander Alex Sanabia was both thrilled and surprised to be one of the Marlins' September call-ups.
Sanabia has spent most of the year recovering from a right forearm strain, and he went 0-3 with a 7.89 ERA in four starts for the Zephyrs. <> But the Marlins know Sanabia's potential when he's healthy. As a rookie in 2010, he went 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 15 games, 12 starts.
Sanabia will start either Sept. 14 at Atlanta or Sept. 15 in one of the doubleheader games at Philadelphia.
After the season ends, Sanabia will pitch in the Arizona Fall League. He could be a candidate for the Marlins' rotation or bullpen in 2012, depending on the team's offseason moves.
"As long as I'm healthy and I'm pitching, I'm happy," said Sanabia, who turns 23 on Thursday.
INF Alfredo Amezaga, designated for assignment by the Marlins when they expanded their roster Tuesday, was released Thursday. Amezaga hit .136 (6-for-44) with two RBI in 20 games for Florida after he was acquired in a trade with Colorado last month. Overall for the Rockies and Marlins, he batted .182/.247/,195 with four RBI in 40 games.
Vinny Rottino, called up from Class AAA New Orleans earlier this week, gives the Marlins four catchers, along with John Buck, Brett Hayes and John Baker. But Rottino will be used more as an outfielder. Rottino, 31, can play both the corner outfield and infield positions. He made his Marlins debut Tuesday in right field—his first major league action since 2008 with Milwaukee.
RHP Ricky Nolasco takes a streak of 21 scoreless innings against the Pirates into his start Friday in Pittsburgh. The string spans his last three starts, all victories. He is 4-3 with a 1.81 ERA in nine games (seven starts) against Pittsburgh.
SS Emilio Bonifacio has been making the most of his playing time. He leads National League leadoff hitters with a .390 on-base percentage, while his .309 batting average is second among NL lead-off hitters to Jose Reyes' .335.
Omar Infante has done well defensively in his first full season at second base for the Marlins. He has a .992 fielding percentage and has made five errors, both second only to Orlando Hudson (.996, two errors) of San Diego.
RHP Jose Ceda was considered a future closer for the Marlins at one point, but he has had mixed results this year out of the bullpen. The hard-thrower has 17 strikeouts and nine walks but also a 5.40 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. September has been a rough month so far for Ceda, who has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings over three appearances.
By The Numbers: 11—Shutout losses this season for the Marlins, who lost 1-0 to the Mets on Wednesday.
Quote To Note: "If we do it right, this should become a gem of baseball." —Marlins president David Samson, during a press tour Wednesday of the new Miami ballpark that will open in April.
CF Mike Cameron (tight right hamstring) came out of the game in the ninth inning Sept. 6 and didn't play Sept. 7. He's expected to get a few days off.
RF Mike Stanton (right hamstring tightness) left the Sept. 3 game and did not play Sept. 4-6. He pinch-hit Sept. 7 and hopes to return to the lineup Sept. 9.
SS Hanley Ramirez (sprained left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He has been working out at the team's spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla., and he began a rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter on Aug. 26. On Aug. 30, he left a rehab game because of shoulder pain, and he will undergo surgery Sept. 15. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery and will decide after he starts whether to make it arthroscopic or open surgery. Ramirez was transferred to the 60-day disabled list Sept. 6.
LHP Randy Choate (left elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 16. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 5.
OF Scott Cousins (lower back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 5.
RHP Josh Johnson (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 17, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 14. He played catch in late May and early June and threw his first bullpen session June 17. He experienced discomfort after throwing a bullpen session June 24, and he was ordered not to throw a baseball until mid-July at the earliest. Johnson began a throwing program Aug. 3, and he threw off a mound Sept. 5. He hopes to pitch in an instructional league game before the end of the year.