MIAMI (AP) — The Florida Marlins and New York Mets may not have much to play for, but Gaby Sanchez is in the running to become the fourth Marlin to win NL Rookie of the Year.
The first baseman looks to continue pounding Mets’ pitching and help the Marlins complete a two-game sweep Wednesday night.
Sanchez is first among rookies with 19 homers and 81 RBIs, while ranking among the leaders with a .283 average. Those numbers make him a serious contender to join Dontrelle Willis (2003), Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Chris Coghlan (2009) as the only Marlins to win the league’s rookie of the year award.
“It has been a tremendous season for Gaby, and he keeps putting the numbers up there,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He’s been outstanding. Sometimes you forget he’s a rookie; he’s been very, very consistent.”
Sanchez may have reinforced his case Tuesday, capping a three-hit performance with a three-run homer in the eighth inning to clinch a 5-2 win.
He insists the award isn’t a motivating factor heading into the final 11 games of the season.
“The award is the last thing I’m thinking about,” said Sanchez, who is 9 for 22 with two homers in the last six games.
Sanchez owns a .406 average with three homers and 15 RBIs in 17 meetings versus New York this year with Florida winning 11. He’s 3 for 10 against Jonathon Niese, the Mets’ scheduled starter.
While Sanchez is proving he can be a standout for the Marlins, fellow rookie Alex Sanabia (4-3, 3.88) is trying to prove he’s worthy of a spot in the rotation next year.
The right-hander showed promise Friday by yielding two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings, but Florida (75-75) mustered five hits in a 2-0 loss to Chicago.
Sanabia is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in two games against the Mets. He won his only start against them Aug. 25, allowing two earned runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory in New York.
The Mets (74-77) were officially eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday, and could return the favor by beating Florida.
“It’s disappointing, we had our chances, but for whatever reason – injury, poor performance, poor execution – we really shot ourselves in the foot the second half and weren’t able to keep up that pace that we had in the first half,” third baseman David Wright said.
Niese (9-9, 3.76) will try to end New York’s four-game slide.
The left-hander appeared to be headed for a victory Friday, but was charged with a 6-4 defeat to Atlanta. He yielded one hit through three scoreless innings before giving up six unearned runs and getting lifted after the fourth.
Niese is 1-3 with a 5.66 ERA in four starts against the Marlins with all of them coming this year.
Jose Reyes has been a rare bright spot for the Mets, putting together a team-record 23-game hitting streak on the road. The shortstop has a .347 average during the run, but is hitting .274 overall this season.
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