Friday, September 14, 2012

10 facts about the Marlins series

After sweeping away the Pittsburgh Pirates in Cincinnati, the Reds (87-57) enjoyed an off-day on Thursday before marching into Miami on Friday for a weekend clash against Ozzie Guillen's Marlins (63-81). Both teams entered the regular season with high expectations, but only one has been able to live up to those so far.

That team is the front-running Reds, who currently boast the largest division lead of any team in baseball. Their magic number to clinch their second National League Central Division title in three years stands at eight with 18 games to go.

On the other hand, Miami has a disastrous campaign as evidenced by their last-place standing in the NL East. The Marlins rolled the dice this off-season and brought in a handful of pricey free agents to help open their brand new ballpark. All of which were in hopes of reinvigorating their casual fan base. Unfortunately, their investments haven't paid off as the team is perhaps the greatest disappointment in the National League this year and their attendance numbers are still well below the league average. Can they salvage what's left of their season with a good showing against the Reds? We shall see.

Here are 10 facts you should know about the series against the Fish:

1. Friday and Saturday's games will begin at approximately 7:10pm ET. Sunday's affair will be of the matinee variety (1:10pm ET).

2. Here are the pitching matchups:

Fri - CIN Bronson Arroyo (12-7, 3.66) vs MIA Jacob Turner (0-2, 5.29)
Sat - CIN Johnny Cueto (17-8, 2.71) vs MIA Mark Buehrle (12-12, 3.74)
Sun - CIN Mat Latos (12-4, 3.72) vs MIA Ricky Nolasco (12-12, 4.40)

3. This will mark the one and only trip to Miami for the Reds in 2012. It will also mark their first visit to new Marlins Park. They are 39-35 all-time in the south Florida city.

4. Miami ranks 14th in the league in both team batting average (.245) and runs scored (556). Cincy, by comparison, ranks 8th in those two categories (618 RS, .255 BA).

5. The Marlins entered Friday having lost four of their previous five games.

6. Arroyo is just 1-3 in 12 lifetime appearances (63.1 IP) against the Fish. His ERA is 4.12 and his WHIP is 1.468 in those games.

7. The series will feature two of the top sluggers in the league in Jay Bruce (CIN) and Giancarlo Stanton (MIA). Bruce ranks third in the NL with 33 homers while Stanton ranks second with 34.

8. Cueto needs a solid outing on Saturday to keep his Cy Young Award hopes alive. The right-hander ranks third in the league in both ERA and wins.

9. Closer Aroldis Chapman will be unavailable for the series. He is in the middle of a week-long rest period that the Reds placed on him to help relieve shoulder fatigue.

10. Cincy leads the all-time series, 90-67, including 2-1 this season. They have won 22 of their last 33 games overall against the Marlins.

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