After nipping at the Phillies' heels in the standings for most of the season to date, the Marlins have fallen well off the pace lately, entering this week's series at 7.5 games back. They're a game below .500, which is somewhat amazing given that just 17 days ago, they were 10 games over .500.
Since Anibal Sanchez pitched them to a 1-0 victory over the Giants on May 26, capping a three-game sweep in San Francisco, the Marlins have won just three games while losing 14, including eight straight to start the month of June. The Braves have taken the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Marlins, who are now dangerously close to being caught by the Mets (just .5 games behind).
With four games on the schedule in the next three days, the Phillies have a great opportunity to knock them even further into their tailspin.
Of course, there's also a chance to resuscitate them if the Fish can steal a series here. The Marlins have been a good road team overall this season (everyone likes to play in front of a live audience, even if it's a hostile one), and they won't keep losing at this pace all season.
They'll also get a big bump tonight when Hanley Ramirez is expected to return and bat leadoff for the Marlins.
Hopefully the Phils see them for the wounded dog(fish) that they are, as
well as a walking reminder of how quickly things can go south
for a contending team.
For more on the series against the Marlins, here's Jim Salisbury: