Preview: Marlins look to stop slide in finale against Phillies
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Miami Marlins spent the past 2 1/2 weeks playing themselves out of a wild-card contention.
Compounding their problems, they are now dealing with the monster known as the Philadelphia Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins.
Hoskins, who is the first major league player to hit 17 home runs in his first 33 games, hopes to continue his torrid start when Philadelphia hosts Miami on Thursday in the finale of their three-game series.
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Hoskins has belted three home runs in the first two games of the series -- both won by the Phillies.
A stretch of 14 losses in 16 games has the Marlins (68-77) all but eliminated, save for a few decimal points. So now, like their division foe, Philadelphia (56-89), the rest of the season will be played out and questions for next year's roster will get answered.
That process continues Thursday night, when the Marlins continue to gather data on right-hander Jose Urena (13-6, 3.61 ERA). The 26-year-old is having the best year of his career after posting a 6.13 ERA in 28 appearances (12 starts) in 2016.
Pitching is arguably the main reason the Marlins couldn't stay in contention. Urena basically has been their ace.
"You almost have to (call Urena the top starter) at this point, right?" Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after Urena's last outing. "He's kind of been that guy that time in and time out to keep us in a game."
Urena is coming off a solid performance Friday. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run during a 7-1 victory at Atlanta. Urena has started twice against Philadelphia in 2017, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
In his career against the Phillies, Urena is 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in nine games (five starts).
The Phillies will send right-hander Jake Thompson (1-2, 5.23 ERA) to the mound Thursday. Thompson, who has bounced around between the majors and minors, is making his sixth start. The 23-year-old was torched for seven runs (five earned) in five innings his last time out, when Philadelphia fell 11-10 at Washington on Friday. His two starts prior to that came against the Marlins.
He allowed one run and six hits in six innings of a Phillies' 3-1 win in Miami on Sept. 3. The start at home, though, on Aug. 24, saw him yield five runs on seven hits in five innings of a 9-8 Philadelphia loss. Thompson received no-decisions in both starts.
The Phillies are adding some depth to their rotation to help younger pitchers such as Thompson. With injuries piling up and yearly innings adding quickly for younger arms toward the end of the year, the club promoted Henderson Alvarez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.
Alvarez, 27, likely will start Sunday when the Phillies finish up a series with the Oakland A's. His arrival will give the team a six-man rotation for the season's final weeks.
Alvarez, a former All-Star with the Marlins, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2015. He underwent season-ending shoulder operations in both 2015 and 2016. The rest of the season will basically be an audition for his future.
"To be back here in MLB is awesome," Alvarez told PhillyVoice. "It's been tough, but I've been able to keep my head up. I had two shoulder surgeries that kept me away from the game, but I understand it's part of baseball. I've been working hard, and it has finally paid off."