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|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, September 18, 2018
Marlins Park, Miami, Florida Attendance: 7,726
Nationals' Strasburg tries to extend dominance of Marlins
MIAMI -- Starlin Castro said he has been feeling "a little lost" at the plate lately.
Monday night, he rediscovered his stroke, belting a two-run double and a solo homer as his Miami Marlins defeated the visiting Washington Nationals 8-5.
The Marlins are in last place in the National League East and have not been in contention all year, so the victory was merely for pride and the stat books.
But the Nationals (76-75), who won this division three of the past four years, including the past two in a row by large margins, are a different story.
The Nationals are now long-shots to make this postseason, and Monday's performance -- giving up a 4-0 lead -- had to hurt.
On Tuesday, the Nationals and Marlins will conclude their brief two-game set. Washington will start veteran right-hander Stephen Strasburg (8-7, 3.87 ERA). Miami will go with rookie right-hander Sandy Alcantara (2-0, 1.42 ERA).
Dating back to April 2017, Strasburg has dominated the Marlins, going 4-0 with a 0.67 ERA.
Overall, Strasburg, who at age 30 still has an above-average fastball with a norm of 94.8 mph, has won his past two decisions. His most recent start, on Wednesday at the Philadelphia Phillies, was Strasburg's best since May. He struck out nine, walked none and allowed just one run in seven innings.
One of Strasburg's oddest patterns this year has been his home struggles -- 2-5 with a 5.20 ERA. But he is 6-2 with a 2.26 ERA in eight road starts.
He has also been strong in September, going 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts.
The Marlins, though, have shown they will battle, just as they did on Monday.
"I give credit to our whole lineup," Castro said of a Marlins team that pieced together six singles, six walks, two doubles and one homer on Monday. "We started the game losing, but we all came up with big at-bats."
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he was proud of his team.
"It feels good that our guys are fighting," Mattingly said. "You want your guys to compete no matter the situation."
Mattingly has to be happy with the compete level of Alcantara, whose average fastball is 95.2 mph. He has thrown as hard as 102 mph, and, at age 23, he is a big part of Miami's future.
Alcantara has lasted seven innings in each of his past two starts. In those two games, he has allowed a total of just five hits and two runs, striking out 12.
Washington has its own young stars -- outfielders Victor Robles and Juan Soto. Robles, a 21-year-old with just 44 at-bats at this level, hit his first major-league homer on Monday night, blasting the ball 427 feet to left. His shot had an exit velocity of 105 mph.
The 19-year-old Soto has hit 20 homers so far this season, which ranks him third in major-league history in the category of long balls hit by a teenager. Tony Conigliaro is atop the list with 24 homers. Washington's Bryce Harper hit 22 homers as a teen.
Strasburg recently gave Soto exceptionally high praise.
"He is reminiscent," Strasburg said, "of watching (a young) Tony Gwynn."
Updated September 18, 2018
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