The division standings don't lie.
The Nationals' season has not gone as expected, and now they are caught looking up at the first-place Braves in the National League East.
But this much is also true: It's always an event when Washington sends Stephen Strasburg to the mound.
On Wednesday, the young right-hander will take the hill against Henderson Alvarez and the Marlins, and once again, it's must-see TV.
Strasburg took a no-decision despite pitching 8 2/3 brilliant innings in his last outing. He allowed four runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts against the Cubs, but was stung by a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth.
"I can look at it two ways," Strasburg said. "I can look at the last inning or I can look at all the other innings where I was pitching really well, so I'm going to focus on the positive."
As for the Marlins, they have been slumping on both offense and defense recently, but manager Mike Redmond is confident that they'll turn it around.
"Those guys, they work too hard to go out there and make those types of mistakes," Redmond said. "We've taken way too many ground balls and played way too many games for that. But like anything, you can get in a rut sometimes, defensively and offensively. It's something that you've just got to work through, and sometimes one great play can turn things around."
Alvarez endured his roughest outing in 10 starts this year in his last outing, giving up a season-high five earned runs against the Dodgers. The five innings were his fewest since his first start, on July 4 at Atlanta.
Tuesday's matchup marked the Marlins' first trip to Nats Park since the first series of the season, when they were swept by the Nats in three games. Here's something to consider about that series: Placido Polanco was hitting cleanup.
"It was definitely a different team," Redmond said. "Yeah, definitely a different team than where we are now. Hopefully we can get things going and continue to work towards the goal of finishing the season strong. Like I said, the guys have been playing hard and working hard and we've just got to keep grinding."
Marlins: Fernandez racking up accolades
• Pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was named the co-NL Player of the Week on Monday, is only the third Major League pitcher over the last 25 seasons to have a double-digit win total and an ERA below 2.50 over the first 25 starts of his rookie season.
• Polanco returned from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Tuesday.
"I was feeling really good, talking to people, stuff like that," Polanco said. "Obviously a little slow, but it wasn't until I took the tests -- the impact test, all that stuff -- that they said I had a concussion."
Nationals: Span extends streak
• Denard Span went 1-for-3 Tuesday. He has hit safely in 10 straight games, with a double, two triples, a homer, five RBIs, five runs scored and three walks in the span.
• Bryce Harper is hitting .405 with five doubles, a homer, six RBIs, seven runs and six walks during his nine-game hit streak. He has yet to register a double-digit hit streak in the big leagues.
• Since June 16, Miami starting pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in 50 of 63 games.
• Strasburg and the Nationals won the final MLB game played at Sun Life Stadium, 3-1, on Sept. 28, 2011.
• The Nationals will observe Heroes Day on Sept. 13 -- the opener of a homestand -- to honor the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.