The Miami Marlins entered the ninth inning on Saturday having scored zero runs against the Chicago White Sox, despite racking up seven hits, three walks, and getting hit-by-pitch twice. They had left 11 runners on base through eight innings and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Then, the Marlins ticked and tacked their way to a go-ahead run in the ninth, and notched four more insurance runs before the inning was over.
Garrett Cooper (pinch-hitting after leaving Friday’s game with elbow discomfort after a collision with Elvis Andrus at first base) and Luis Arraez led off the inning with consecutive singles. Jorge Soler then walked to load the bases against White Sox closer Joe Kelly.
Bryan De La Cruz then hit a chopper to shortstop Tim Anderson, who committed an error while transferring the ball from his glove to his throwing hand, allowing pinch-runner Jonathan Davis to score the tying run. Next up, Jesús Sánchez drew a full-count walk to drive home the go-ahead run.
The Marlins got an insurance run on the next at-bat when Yuli Gurriel grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning, which allowed Jorge Soler to score. For those keeping score at home: that’s three runs without registering a hit, and still 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
The only hit with runners in scoring position on Saturday afternoon was a Jean Segura two-RBI double later in the inning.
For better or worse, Saturday afternoon’s win was a vintage Sandy Alcantara start: low-scoring, efficient, heavy on the ground balls, and zero run support while he was still in the game.
Alcantara’s only mistake was a first-pitch fastball left over the plate against Andrew Vaughn that he cranked over the right field for a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Outside of that one pitch, Alcantara had a successful day. He did not allow any other runs during his seven innings of work, and only allowed three hits and two walks. Eight of his first nine outs he recorded were ground outs, and finished the day with 12. His 68.4 ground ball rate vs. the White Sox was in stark contrast to his overall 2023 rate of 47.3%, up from 54.2% in his Cy Young-winning 2022.
This approach works especially well when the fielders behind you make both the routine and the extraordinary plays:
With the Marlins losing on Friday night, Saturday’s victory was another data point in an odd trend for Alcantara: he has a 7.41 ERA this season following a team win, and a 2.68 ERA following a team loss.