WASHINGTON -- The elements created soggy conditions on Monday night at Nationals Park. But the bigger issue for Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantara was getting through the heart of the Nationals' lineup.Alcantara surrendered back-to-back homers to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in a four-run fourth inning en route to a 7-3
WASHINGTON -- The elements created soggy conditions on Monday night at Nationals Park. But the bigger issue for Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantara was getting through the heart of the Nationals' lineup.
Alcantara surrendered back-to-back homers to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in a four-run fourth inning en route to a 7-3 loss in the series opener.
"It's just like a little [wet]," Alcantara said. "But I got a good grip today. I was like a little out of control today, but next time I've got to keep doing the best, you know?"
Making his fifth start of the season, Alcantara had to deal with the rainy conditions along with facing the same lineup in consecutive starts. Last Tuesday at Marlins Park, the 23-year-old right-hander gave up three runs in four innings in a loss.
"Just didn't seem to have command," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Trouble with command. Rough day."
In both meetings, the Nationals grinded out at-bats against Alcantara. Miami's top pitching prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, walked five and struck out three on Monday after issuing six walks last week in Miami.
Alcantara threw 84 pitches (51 strikes) -- 22 two-seamers and 22 sinkers (or four-seamers), according to Statcast™. He recorded just six swinging strikes
"When he's not aggressive, then that's what you're going to get," Mattingly said. "He wants to throw the two-seamer instead of using the four-seamer. You were getting the ball running off the plate. And he's walking all the lefties. Obviously, we're going to work on that."
Rendon produced a two-run double off Alcantara in the first inning. In the fourth, Bryce Harper lifted a sacrifice fly for his 100th RBI, marking the first time in the All-Star outfielder's career he has reached the century mark. After Harper, Rendon belted a two-run shot and Soto followed with his 21st homer of the season. Per Statcast™, the Rendon homer was 102.6 mph off the bat, and Soto's shot at 107.7 mph.
"I had a little trouble with lefties," Alcantara said. "But we're going to keep working hard, keep working my 'pen, you know, [work] in to the lefties and to the righties outside a bit."
The rainy conditions caused both starters to struggle early.
Stephen Strasburg threw 38 pitches in the first inning, with Miami taking an early lead on JT Riddle's single and Miguel Rojas' RBI double.
"Even after they score [four], we still had guys out there and had a chance to get back in it there, and we're not able to do anything," Mattingly said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trailing 6-1 in the fifth inning, the Marlins chipped away on Brian Anderson's RBI single. But Miami squandered a chance to get back into it. With two runners on, Lewis Brinson struck out. Austin Dean walked to load the bases, but Justin Miller fanned Magneuris Sierra and retired pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega on a groundout to second.
"It was one of those games where we had plenty of opportunities and we're not able to capitalize," Mattingly said. "We didn't really get anything done with guys in scoring position."
The Marlins left 10 on base and went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth, catcher Matt Wieters retrieved a ball in the dirt and tried to pick off JT Riddle, who used a swim move, to get back safely to first. More >
HE SAID IT
"It didn't seem that bad. I know they were putting stuff out there. Javy [Guerra] threw three innings and didn't seem to have trouble. The other guys didn't seem to have trouble. Our guy [Alcantara] just struggled with command. All around, it wasn't real good." -- Mattingly, on the wet conditions
Right-hander Jeff Brigham is getting an opportunity in September to see if he fits into the Marlins' future as a starter or reliever. On Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, the rookie draws a tough assignment, taking on a star-filled Nationals lineup at Nationals Park. Making the task even more daunting is he is matched against National League Cy Young Award candidate Max Scherzer.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. Ian Quillen contributed to this story.