The question of “who am I?” is one we are all guilty of asking ourselves at one point or another over the course of our lives. For Sandy Alcantara, that moment most likely came in the 3rd inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Oakland Athletics.
In the ultimate “get right” game, and with the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner going up against an A’s team flirting with the ‘worst team of all-time’ moniker, Alcantara had a top of the 3rd that one a pitcher could only fathom in their nightmares.
After retiring the first 6 Oakland hitters to begin the ballgame, the next 8 outcomes against the Marlins ace were as follows: single, stolen base, single, single (RBI), strikeout, double (2 RBI), stolen base, throwing error (E1).
What was once a 1-0 Miami lead quickly turned 5-1 in Oakland’s favor. Following a throwing error by Alcantara that brought home Ramón Laureano, the some-12,000 spectators erupted in a chorus of boo’s, with the team’s franchise pitcher front-and-center for all of it.
And yet, as they seem to have done all season, the Marlins somehow found a way to win, this one, a 7-5 affair to seal a series sweep of the now 12-49 A’s. Miami now improves to a season-best 4 games over .500 at 32-28 and holds a game two-game lead over the Mets for 2nd place in the NL East.
“They fight, they don’t quit,” said manager Skip Schumaker. “There’s a lot of baseball left to play, but credit to them, they don’t take any one (game) for granted.”
After the 3rd inning from hell, Sandy Alcantara would go 1-2-3 in the 4th, 5th, allow a single before converting it into a double play to finish the 6th in order, and 1-2-3 in the 7th in what was his grittiest outing of the year. Minus the 3rd, Alcantara faced the minimum number of batters in every inning he threw Sunday.
“It was nice, but I don’t feel happy about it,” said Alcantara postgame.
Though much better than what his pitching line may suggest, Alcantara’s season ERA rose from 4.93 to 5.07.
“I thought his stuff was really good. Other than that one inning, it was six innings of really clean baseball…He fought through a lot and kept us into the game,” noted Schumaker.
Huge too for Miami was the return of Garrett Cooper, who missed the last four games with lingering vision issues. After doubling in his first plate appearance, Cooper capitalized on a hanging slider from Oakland starter Paul Blackburn by hitting off the left field foul pole for a game-tying three-run home run.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel also continued his propensity for contribution, adding 3 hits including his 3rd triple of the season in the 4th.
Miami would cap off the comeback in the bottom of the 8th when back-to-back hits from Joey Wendle and Jacob Stallings into the go-ahead and insurance runs. Second baseman Luis Arraez—now hitting .392 after another multi-hit performance—drove in the go-ahead run with a single that caromed off the glove of second baseman Aledmys Díaz. Nick Fortes, who pinch ran and caught the 9th in place of Stallings, scored on a Bryan De La Cruz swinging third strike dropped by catcher Shea Langeliers.
- In a 1994 season where he flirted with being the first hitter in 53 years to hit .400 over the course of a full season, Tony Gwynn hit .388 through his first 55 games played. Arraez exits play Sunday hitting .392.
- Yuli Gurriel became the first player since Chase Utley in 2017 to hit at least 3 triples in his age-38-older season when he hit a leadoff three-bagger in the bottom of the 4th.
- Following his pinch hitting appearance, OF/DH Jorge Soler went for X-Rays in what was deemed some thumb discomfort, though they’d return a negative result.
- Befitting of any high-leverage reliever, Dylan Floro has a short memory. In games immediately following ones in which he surrendered runs, Floro has combined to throw 5 scoreless innings across 5 outings.
The Marlins will continue the soft portion of their schedule Monday when they welcome the Kansas City Royals to loanDepot Park for their first meeting since Sept. 6-8, 2019.
Braxton Garrett (1-2, 4.22 ERA) starts Game 1 for Miami. Garrett has a 1.66 ERA in 4 outings since 5/14 (21.2 IP), allowing just 4 runs and a .160 opponent’s batting average. First pitch is slated for 6:40 EST.