Marlins let 'loose' to claim series win in Philly

May 21st, 2021

During their run to the postseason in 2020, the underdog Marlins embraced a bottom feeders mentality that was born in the opening series against the Phillies. Now, over the final stages of its second three-city trip of 2021, Miami is at it again -- this time with a new mantra fit for this year’s club. 

Box score 

Right-hander went six scoreless innings, while and homered as the Marlins beat the Phillies, 6-0, on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. After dropping the first two contests of a 10-game trip to match a season-worst at five games below .500, Miami went 5-3 the rest of the way in Arizona, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

"We need to play with [a] 'loose hoop,'" Rojas said the night before. "You can't go out there and play tight. You want to be loose, you want to be having fun. And I think that was the mantra of this team last year, that 'I don't care' mentality. We're bottom feeders, we're not supposed to be here, and that's something that we want to get back. We want to get back to the having fun part and enjoying the game and playing with a loose hoop.

"That's why every time we get hits or we do something good, you're going to see us celebrating that way, so we can remember that we're having fun playing this game instead of being so tight and trying to make things happen."

That starts with Alcantara, who recorded just four outs and surrendered a career-high eight earned runs his last time out against the Dodgers. According to manager Don Mattingly, Alcantara was tipping pitches and missing location. After that outing, he spent time with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. watching video and changing the grip in his glove.

Alcantara returned to form on Thursday, striking out nine batters -- one shy of his career high -- and permitting two hits with three walks. Miami’s top three starters in Alcantara, Pablo López and Trevor Rogers have allowed more than three earned runs just four times in 28 combined starts.

“You're going to have bad days, and I had one of my really bad days in Los Angeles,” said Alcantara, whose ERA had ballooned from 2.72 to 4.06 after facing the Dodgers. “I just focused really good, and I was working so hard to be focused for today. I threw a great game today, and I feel good about it, and I've got to keep working hard to keep doing the same.”

The same goes for the inconsistent offense, which has scored three runs or fewer in 24 of 43 games but is starting to see key pieces find their swings. Cooper added a triple to go along with his homer, while Brian Anderson reached three times. Cooper, a Southern California native, has a season-high five-game hitting streak since playing at Dodger Stadium last weekend and has broken out of a slump.

Cooper since Friday:
7-for-20 (.350)
4 R, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 5 RBIs

Cooper from April 27-May 13 (14 games):
8-for-43 (.186)
2 R, 1 RBI, no XBH

“I drive in runs, I hit balls hard, find some barrels, find some gaps,” Cooper said. “Just as a hitter, I know what I can do, and I think I was a little bit frustrated early on, not getting the big hits. Just take it day by day, like I said. I bring a different dimension to this lineup, you have another guy that can hit for power, it lengthens the lineup.”

Though the Marlins aren’t looking too far into the future, this series against the Phillies opened a stretch of 10 consecutive games against the top two teams in the National League East standings. The Marlins now return to South Florida for a seven-game homestand against the Mets and Phillies.

“You kind of keep turning the page city to city,” Mattingly said. “Being able to come here and get two out of three [is] good for us. We started the trip slow, and I remember the conversations were like, ‘What do you talk to your team about?’ [and] all that stuff. And that's why you’ve just got to kind of stay level, keep turning the page.

"The win in L.A. was big to get out of that last one and be able to come here with a little momentum after the off-day. This one ended up being a good series for us. We're going to get home late, so we've got to try to get some rest and be ready to play tomorrow night.”