The Marlins have struggled offensively this season but it's no fault of Dee Gordon, who is hitting .326 and leads the National League with 134 hits. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Marlins series preview

August 11, 2015 - 5:36 am
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The Red Sox will open up a two-game set with the Marlins for the second time this season when they take the field Tuesday in Miami. In the two teams' last series at Fenway Park on July 7 and 8, the Red Sox swept, winning by scores of 4-3 and 6-3. The Red Sox are 50-62, 12 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. They have played .500 baseball in August thus far, posting a 4-4 record in the month. Facing the Tigers in the latest installment of their road trip, the Sox had what can only be considered one of the most promising series of their season. They took two out of three in Detroit, with the victories coming on the arms of Joe Kelly and Henry Owens. Kelly was impressive Friday, striking out seven of the first eight batters he faced and finishing with 5 1/3 innings pitched while allowing just two earned runs. Meanwhile, Owens was just as effective on a limited pitch count Sunday. He hurled five innings, giving up three hits and four walks along with a run. Both of these efforts resulted in 7-2 Red Sox wins. "I think, probably these last two starts, looking back, I can kind of trust myself in the zone more, rather than tinker around the strike zone," Owens said of his first career major league win. "It's good to get these first two out of the way, and the first zone, set my shoulders back, take a deep breath and move on." It wasn't just the pitchers who provided a ray of sunlight for the Red Sox this past weekend, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. showed why they belong with the big league club with their performances as well. Castillo went 3-for-5 on Friday, scoring three runs and driving in one more during the win. He's slashed a solid .333/.375/.444 since being recalled on July 27. Bradley also had himself a day this weekend when he clubbed a long ball and a triple on Sunday. He closed the game with five RBIs and a spectacular Willie Mays-esque catch. "Today was a flash of what Jackie's capable of," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his 25-year-old center fielder. "And when he swings the bat like that, it's certainly the potential for an outstanding player. The defense has clearly been the carrying tool for him. It always gives him the opportunity to find at-bats for him. "Today, a big day for him. But as a young player, both on the amateur level and the lower levels, he's been a very good offensive contributor. It's taken some time for him to get his feet on the ground here, but today is a glimpse of what that potentially could be." The Red Sox head into the Marlins series Tuesday with baseball's 12th-best offense and fourth-worst pitching staff. However, the Sox' struggles will be muted Tuesday when they take the field against the worst team in baseball. The Marlins only wish they could erase 2015 from memory. They own a 44-68 record and, of Saturday, have fallen behind the Phillies for last place in the NL East. This year, they are 26-30 at home, far better than their road split, which sits at a lowly 18-38. The Marlins' problems in 2015 can be traced to their lack of offense, most of which is a result of the loss of All-Star and early season MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton went down with a broken hamate bone in his hand on June 26. When he hit the DL, he led the majors with 27 home runs and 67 RBIs. In his absence, the Marlins have gone 14-23 and sport baseball's worst offense (3.57 runs per game). It appears things will get worse for the Marlins before they get better, as they just sent Tommy John recipient Jose Fernandez back to the 15-day DL after he aggravated his triceps during last Friday's start against the Braves. The Marlins ace was 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA this year in seven starts before he went down. "I think we have to be smart, where we are in this season," Jennings said of Fernandez's injury. "He'€™s worked extremely hard. You guys know how competitive he is, and what it means for him to take the ball and go out and pitch. But we won'€™t do it until we know he'€™s back 100 percent. There'€™s no need to push it or rush it." The Marlins train is still headed southbound, as they have dropped 13 of their last 16 and haven't won a series since July 22. Over their last two sets, they have been outscored 48-25. Here are the pitching matchups for the series: Steven Wright (5-4, 4.12 ERA) vs. Justin Nicolino (1-1, 4.09 ERA) Eduardo Rodriguez (6-4, 4.17 ERA) vs. David Phelps (4-8, 4.35 ERA) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Aside from standout performances from Bradley and Castillo, the Red Sox also saw consistency this past weekend in the form of Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop went 5-for-15 in the Tigers series, notching two RBIs and a .467 slugging percentage. -- Blake Swihart has picked up his play behind the plate lately, as he went 4-for-9 over the weekend. Over his last 19 games, Swihart is slashing .303/.313/.409 with five doubles and seven RBIs. -- Steven Wright is reminding Red Sox fans of the glory days of Tim Wakefield with his utterly unhittable knuckleball. In his last two starts, Wright has twirled 15 innings worth of three-run ball, whiffing 17 batters and producing a .185 opponent batting average. WHO'S HOT: MARLINS -- One of the lone bright spots for the Marlins this season, Dee Gordon, has managed to stay hot despite the weaknesses all around him. Since July 9, the diminutive second baseman is hitting .283 with eight RBIs and just eight strikeouts. For the season he leads the NL with 134 hits and is second with a .326 batting average. -- Another young slugger on the Marlins has picked up his pace in the wake of the team's struggles. Christian Yelich went 8-for-18 against the Braves with two doubles, three RBIs and three stolen bases. Since June 27, Yelich has slashed .345/.413/.460 while logging 12 extra-base hits and nine base swipes. -- Unheraled reliever Bryan Morris has increased his potential value on the free agent market in 2015. Over his last 17 appearances, the right-hander boasts a 1.00 ERA and a .177 opponent average. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- Hanley Ramirez has continued to underwhelm of late, posting a .188 average over the last four games in addition to three strikeouts. Since the All-Star break, Ramirez is slashing .218/.235/.256 with 15 strikeouts and just two walks in 80 plate appearances. -- All-Star super-utility man Brock Holt has not provided the wow factor Sox fans became accustomed to in the first half of the season. During the last week, he's gone 4-for-27 with no runs scored and just two RBIs. Since June 23, Holt has slashed .225/.270/.239 with two extra-base hits. -- Normally one of the two stable blocks in the Red Sox bullpen, Junichi Tazawa has struggled of late, calling his reliability into question. Coming off of a blown save against the Rays in his previous appearance, Tazawa could not rebound Saturday in Detroit, where he gave up another two runs and blew another save. That gives him an 0-2 record and an ERA of 12.00 over his last three appearances. WHO'S NOT: MARLINS -- Catcher J.T. Realmuto certainly has made a hefty contribution to the Marlins' offensive disaster recently. Over his last nine games, he's gone 3-for-26 without an extra-base hit, good for a .322 OPS. -- When he assumed the closer role midseason, A.J. Ramos wowed, taking a 1.11 ERA into the All-Star break. The set-up man by trade has languished in the spotlight of late, though, blowing two of his last six save opportunities, allowing nine runs in his last nine appearances. -- Wednesday's starter, David Phelps, was shelled during his most recent outing against the Mets last Wednesday to the tune of eight hits and seven runs in just 4 1/3 innings. New York batters squared him up for nine line drives, tied for his most given up in a single appearance this year.

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