Alcantara victimized by Vlad Jr. as Marlins fall

June 2nd, 2021

took the mound for his first career start against the Blue Jays, but his solid outing was wiped away when he ran into one of the game’s hottest hitters in a 5-1 loss at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field on Tuesday.

Alcantara lasted six innings, but allowed four runs, with three of those coming on a three-run home run by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., one of the four hits he had on the night, three of them against Alcantara.

“Stuff was good, kind of like normal,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “He made a few mistakes, seemed like some balls … that he was trying to go one side of the plate, ended up on the other. He didn't seem to be able to get flat-out all night.

“Obviously [Guerrero’s homer] was the big blow. … Other than that, honestly pretty good.”

Alcantara retired Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette to open the bottom of the first, but a double by Guerrero foreshadowed his big night to come.

In the bottom of the third and with two men on base, Guerrero hit a line-drive homer over the left-field wall to give the Blue Jays an early 3-0 lead. A credit to Alcantara’s consistency, this is just the fourth start this season in which he has allowed more than two earned runs in the game.

“He's a guy that we know is aggressive; their whole club’s really aggressive,” Mattingly said. “So you got to make quality pitches all the time. You can't ever think that he's going to give you a strike. So, we got to make better pitches. He is a guy that we're capable of getting out, but he is a really talented kid with a good swing. Uses the whole field, and he’s been killing the ball this year, so we gotta make better pitches.”

Following Guerrero’s homer, Alcantara regrouped and retired the next two batters on strikeouts to escape the inning. He allowed one more run in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Teoscar Hernández.

Limiting hard contact has been a large part of Alcantara’s success; his 2.1% is the second best in the National League behind Rockies pitcher Jon Gray. He’s also been known to perform on the road, with a 5-3 record and a 3.67 ERA in his past 11 road starts, dating back to 2019.

“I think I've been doing a great job, you know, I just gotta be healthy, keep doing my job, just keep taking the opportunity,” said Alcantara. “I know this is a long season, just gotta keep healthy and keep throwing the ball.”

The Marlins’ lone run came in the top of the fifth when a Starling Marte double brought in Luis Marté for his first run scored of his career. This extends Marte’s hitting streak to 11 games, his 12th double-digit hitting streak of his career. This is also the fourth time in franchise history that a Marlins hitter drove in a player with the same surname, with the last time coming from Jhonatan and Donovan Solano in 2015.

Marté, 27, was called up on May 28 and made his Major League debut Tuesday after 10 years in the Minor Leagues, as injuries to several Marlins infielders including Miguel Rojas and Brian Anderson created a need. Marté went 0-for-2 with a walk and the run scored. He was pinch-hit for by José Devers with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. Devers struck out against Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano to end the game.

Before his promotion, Marté was hitting .263 with three homers and 11 RBIs with Triple-A Jacksonville.

Marlins hitters entered Tuesday with 511 strikeouts, the seventh most in the Majors, and that total grew by 14 in Buffalo, including nine against Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray. Prior to Tuesday’s matchup, the Marlins were coming off three straight losses in which they left 26 runners on base and went 3-for-21 with RISP. The Fish went 0-for-5 with RISP on Tuesday and left eight on base.

“I think the strikeouts are becoming concerning,” Mattingly said. “Obviously it's a trend throughout the game, but you've got to be able to put some balls in play. I think that's something that we've got to improve on. … You're not leaving yourself many chances to score, so you're not leaving yourself very many outs, and I think we've got to do a better job with that.”

Although the Marlins saw the return of Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Adam Duvall, the pair went a combined 0-for-7 with one walk and four strikeouts. Despite the offensive struggles, the Marlins will have to push through this road trip as they await reinforcements.