Miami Marlins outfielder Bryan De La Cruz is making his case for a roster spot in 2023.
De La Cruz figures to be in the lineup on Sunday as the Marlins (63-89) bid for a three-game sweep over the visiting Washington Nationals (52-99).
De La Cruz, who went 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles in Miami's 4-1 win on Saturday, has been hot since being recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 6. He is batting .378 with eight extra-base hits (four homers, four doubles) and 14 RBIs.
"He has scorched some balls -- right center, dead center," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "This is not an easy park to hit. He's been swinging the bat really well since coming back. It seems like his thought process is middle of the field again."
De La Cruz also fell a triple short of the cycle on Saturday. And, on his second double of the night, he made a hard turn around second before deciding against going for what would've been the first cycle in Marlins history.
"I was looking for the triple," De La Cruz said in Spanish. "I wanted to go, but I settled for the double."
Miami doesn't want to settle for anything less than a sweep on Sunday.
The Marlins are 15-3 this season against Washington. That ties Miami's record for the most wins over one opponent in the same season. The last time it happened was in 2004, when the then-Florida Marlins beat the New York Mets on 15 occasions.
In order to get the franchise record on Sunday, the Marlins likely will need a strong effort from their starting pitcher, Edward Cabrera (6-3, 2.91 ERA).
Cabrera, a rookie right-hander, is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two career starts against Washington.
"He has to throw strikes early," Mattingly said of Cabrera. "His last start (a three-run, three-walk performance in five innings vs. the Chicago Cubs), he didn't do that, and he had a little blister thing. We just want him to be consistent."
Washington will counter Cabrera with veteran right-hander Anibal Sanchez (2-6, 4.40).
This will be Sanchez's second straight start against the Marlins. Last Sunday, he recorded a quality start but lost the game despite allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings.
For his career, Sanchez is 4-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) against the Marlins.
A 38-year-old veteran who started his career with the Marlins, Sanchez usually finishes strong. His career ERA in September is 3.58. His overall career ERA is 4.06.
Offensively, Nationals manager Dave Martinez wants to see patience out of his hitters.
In Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Marlins, the Nationals struck out 12 times.
"We're (normally) pretty good at putting balls in play," Martinez said. "We usually wait for a good pitch to hit. Chasing pitches will get you out."
First baseman Joey Meneses continues to lead the Nationals with a .324 batting average and a .930 OPS.
The Nationals also are powered by right fielder Lane Thomas, who leads the team in homers (17) and RBIs (52) among players still on the roster.
--Field Level Media