Growing pains evident in Miami's loss to NY

August 1st, 2021

MIAMI -- The weekend series at loanDepot park offered a glimpse at a pair of clubs moving in different directions -- at least in the present. Prior to the Trade Deadline, the contending Yankees acquired powerful lefty bats in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, while the building Marlins dealt veterans Starling Marte and Adam Duvall, both of whom had expiring contracts.

CEO Derek Jeter on Friday acknowledged the Marlins are trying to build an organization that rivals the Yankees, but that it would take time.

“When we got here, I told you what was going to happen, what our goals were,” Jeter said. “I think we're taking steps in the right direction to get there, but we have to get better on the field here in Miami.”

It was evident in Sunday afternoon’s finale, as the Marlins were unable to avoid the sweep in a 3-1 loss. Ace played the part, but two late defensive miscues extended the club’s skid to four. The three games vs. New York were decided by a total of six runs.

Alcantara matched a career high with 10 strikeouts across seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. It marked the seventh time this season Alcantara had completed at least seven frames. In those starts, he has a 1.18 ERA.

The last time Alcantara countered the Bronx Bombers, the Marlins clinched a postseason berth at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, 2020. When asked last week about the possibility of Alcantara being an extension candidate -- someone to be part of the organization’s long-term success and future -- Jeter wouldn’t comment, but he called the flamethrower Miami’s No. 1 guy.

“Just thinking the same, doing the same or better,” said Alcantara, who went 7 1/3 innings last September. “I faced the Yankees last year, and just wanted to be outside, attack them, let's see what happens. I threw seven innings today, great outing by me. My position players behind me, they did a great job, too, but we lost the game. It is what it is, and we're going to keep working hard and keep playing the game.”

Miami was unable to hold onto the slim lead once Alcantara left the game. Former Marlin Giancarlo Stanton, who was part of the rebuild when Jeter’s ownership group took over, was in the thick of the rally.

Anthony Bass permitted a leadoff single in the eighth to Brett Gardner before striking out pinch-hitter DJ LeMahieu. When Stanton sent a grounder to third base, 2020 NL Gold Glove Award finalist Brian Anderson bobbled a potential inning-ending double play. His rushed throw to first got away, placing runners at the corners. Rizzo and Aaron Judge made the Marlins pay with consecutive RBI knocks off Richard Bleier.

“It seemed like they could've gotten a little fast at times,” acting manager James Rowson said. “When you're in a game like that, you've been winning the game all day long and you're fighting and battling, trying to get back in there, you've got a chance to win. I think sometimes you may speed up a little bit, and those plays happen. These guys are professionals. They get after it, but errors happen throughout the year. You just have to brush it off and keep going forward.”

Rowson’s short-term message to the club was just that, to keep moving forward. In terms of the big picture, it’s seeing growth in a disappointing season. While the pitching staff has made strides (3.53 ERA, fourth in MLB), the position players have yet to do so as a whole. With the departure of Marte and Duvall, these final two months will be an audition for players to show they should be part of the plan in 2022.

Bryan De La Cruz, acquired in the Yimi García trade with the Astros, collected his first hit on Sunday and started all three games vs. the Yankees in right field. Jesús Sánchez is expected to play every day in left field once he returns from the injured list. The question mark is No. 6 prospect Lewin Díaz, who is blocked by Jesús Aguilar at first. The veteran was not dealt to a contender.

“The Trade Deadline is only one period in time,” GM Kim Ng said on Friday. “I will tell you the staff between Gary Denbo, Dan Greenlee, Adrian Lorenzo, Brian Chattin did a great job of really prepping for this Deadline. I think what we did here over the last couple of weeks was not only prep for the offseason, but we talked to all the clubs multiple times. And really, in my mind, set the groundwork for future deals whether it's during the offseason, Spring Training, leading up to Opening Day.”