Two feisty last-place teams who are on positive runs will meet Tuesday night as the Baltimore Orioles host the Miami Marlins for the first of a two-game series.
The Orioles, who are in the American League East basement, just swept the Washington Nationals in three games, allowing an average of just 2.7 runs per contest.
A win on Tuesday would mark Baltimore's longest win streak of the season.
The Marlins, last in the National League East, have won two straight contests, splitting a four-game series against the San Diego Padres.
"We came to play," Marlins left fielder Lewis Brinson said after he homered in Miami's 9-3 win over San Diego on Sunday. "We won't lay down."
Besides the Padres, the Marlins have played the role of spoilers against other playoff-contending teams, taking four of seven games from the Los Angeles Dodgers, for example. The Marlins are also 7-6 in 13 games against the Atlanta Braves and 3-2 versus the New York Mets.
On Tuesday, the starting pitching matchup features a pair of right-handers: Miami's Sandy Alcantara (5-9, 3.23 ERA) against Baltimore's Spenser Watkins (2-0, 1.65 ERA).
Due to time spent on the bereavement list, Alcantara hasn't pitched since July 16. In 12 career appearances with at least six days of rest between starts, Alcantara has a 2.60 ERA. His ERA is 3.56 on his normal four days of rest and 4.00 with five days on the sidelines.
Although the Marlins and Orioles split two games in Miami earlier this season, Alcantara has never faced Baltimore.
Watkins, meanwhile, has joined teammate Dean Kremer as the only Orioles pitchers ever to allow one earned run or fewer in his first three major league starts.
That's impressive considering Orioles pitchers who came up through their farm system include Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Mike Mussina.
Watkins, who has yet to face the Marlins, is a former 30th-round pick of the Detroit Tigers.
At age 28, Watkins is a late bloomer and one of six rookie starting pitchers used by the Orioles this season.
"They all compete," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of his rookie pitchers.
Watkins has worked well with catcher Pedro Severino in all four of his games, including an initial appearance in relief.
Offensively, Watkins will look for support from first baseman Trey Mancini, who leads the team in homers (18) and RBIs (59).
Center fielder Cedric Mullins leads the Orioles in doubles (28) and steals (16). With 16 homers, he is on track for what would be his first 20-20 season.
The Orioles also have a solid DH in Ryan Mountcastle, who has 16 homers, 55 RBIs and a .743 OPS that trails only Mancini on the Baltimore squad.
Miami is led by first baseman Jesus Aguilar and right fielder Adam Duvall, who closed the weekend ranking 1-2 in National League RBIs. Aguilar has 17 homers, 71 RBIs and a .791 OPS. Duvall has 22 homers, 68 RBIs and a .768 OPS.
Marlins center fielder Starling Marte leads the team in steals (21 in 24 attempts) and OPS (.855). Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas, a smooth fielder with a .738 OPS, is expected to return to the lineup after resting on Sunday.
The Marlins have not been a good road team this year at 19-34. But Baltimore is just 16-30 at home.
--Field Level Media