MIA 6, WSH 4: Sunday Ugly Funday

Alcantara surrenders lead, still goes 8, as Miami win a messy contest to secure four-game sweep in nation’s capital.

Sandy Alcantara may be the only pitcher in modern baseball who could allow 4-runs, 9-hits, and still easily give you 8 innings in under 100 pitches. Well, 94 pitches later, he did just that, and in a game that featured 5 total errors—two of which were his own doing—it was enough. The Marlins wrapped up a sweep of the Nationals to collect their first 70-win season since 2017.

“Our pitching is why we won these four games this weekend,” noted manager Skip Schumaker.

It would take all of three pitches to get the Miami bats going, as Luis Arraez sent a Josiah Gray fastball into the Washington bullpen to give the Marlins a quick 1-0 lead.

Miami coaxed a 32-pitch inning out of Gray, thanks in large part to their three walks in the opening frame that produced an additional two runs. The Marlins plated first-inning runs in each of the four games of this series. And with their ace on the mound, the Marlins had to feel pretty good about their chances.

Alas, Washington would quickly respond in the bottom half when Lane Thomas hit his 6th home run against Miami this season.

The two pitchers would get into a grove soon after, with Gray working three ensuing scoreless innings before departing, while Alcantara resorting to his efficient ways, completed the first four innings of work on just 43 pitches.

As has been the case for him all season, though, Alcantara’s undoing came in a single inning. Today’s antagonist, the bottom of 5th, saw Alcantara not only cough up the lead, but trade it with Washington.

Leadoff hitter Ildemaro Vargas would reach at the hands of Alcantara’s first of two errors on the day before Dominic Smith—who homered in Saturday’s 11-5 Washington loss—doubled to score Vargas to make it a 3-2 ballgame. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner’s 5 errors are the most by any pitcher in 2023.

Following a Jacob Young single to tie the score at 3, re-enter Lane Thomas, who would single home Young to put the Nationals ahead.

The Marlins would quickly fire back in the top of the 6th when Joey Wendle showed the aforementioned Vargas what the wrong side of an error looks like after a ground ball went under the third baseman’s legs.

Though the Nationals would threaten in the bottom half following an errant throw on a pickoff attempt by Alcantara, the Marlins ace would work through this and additional trouble in the 7th en route to completing 8 innings for the sixth time this season.

Following singles from Arraez and Jake Burger, a Jazz Chisholm Jr. ground ball would be thrown away by CJ Abrams, allowing Arraez to score the go-ahead run. Chisholm would add his 18th stolen base of the season to set up a Bryan De La Cruz run-scoring single to give Miami some needed 9th inning insurance.

Of Note

  • With the win, the Fish conclude the year 11-2 against their NL East rivals. Since the start of 2022, Miami is a combined 26-6 against the Washington. Following the win, Miami sat half a game out of an NL Wild Card spot.
  • Sunday marked Sandy Alcantara’s 30th career outing of eight-plus innings pitched, easily the most of any pitcher since he joined the Marlins rotation in 2018.
  • Thomas’ 6 home runs against the Marlins in 2023 make him just the second player in Expos/Nationals history with 6 or more long balls against Miami in a single season. Only Bryce Harper, who hit 7 in his first NL MVP year in 2015, hit more.
  • September sequel? Following a September 2022 that saw him hit .375 with an 1.142 OPS, Bryan De La Cruz has begun September 2023 with 6 hits in the month’s first 3 games.

Looking Ahead

Miami will have the day off from play Monday as they head home to commence their toughest slate of games this season.

The club will resume play Tuesday when they welcome the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series. Jesús Luzardo (9-8, 3.62 ERA) will take the ball for Miami in the series opener. In 3 career appearances against L.A., the hard-throwing lefty owns a 3.68 ERA.

Future Hall of Famer and NL Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 2.48 ERA) is slated to take the ball for the Dodgers. In 14 career outings against Miami, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has a 2.68 ERA, while limiting hitters to a .193 batting average against.

Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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