Alcantara stays in attack mode to the finish

Righty throws first career shutout on 89 pitches as Marlins sweep Mets

May 19th, 2019

MIAMI -- wasn’t perfect on Sunday, but he was pretty close.

The Marlins starter threw his first career complete game in Miami’s 3-0 win over the Mets, completing a three-game sweep at Marlins Park. Alcantara gave up just two hits and struck out eight, also a career high in an extremely efficient 89-pitch (55 strikes) effort just one day after Pablo Lopez blanked the Mets on one hit over seven innings of a 2-0 win.

It was the second-fewest pitches in a complete game of nine innings in club history, ranking just behind an 88-pitch performance by Henderson Alvarez on June 3, 2014, against Tampa Bay. The 1-hour, 59-minute game was also just seven minutes longer than the shortest game in Marlins history (1:52) on Sept. 20, 2010, against St. Louis.

In snapping a personal career-long four-game losing streak, Alcantara took a simple game plan to the mound.

“Attack the hitter, be consistent, aggressive, and throw the ball over the plate,” said Alcantara, who threw the Marlins’ first shutout since Jose Urena blanked Washington on Aug. 19, 2018. “I never give up; throw the ball where the catcher calls for it.”

Perfect through 3 1/3 innings, Alcantara faced the minimum through seven despite allowing a pair of singles. Both were erased on double plays, one in the fourth and another in the seventh. He got double-play help again in the eighth inning to work out of trouble.

“Today, you got to give the guy credit,” said Mets second baseman Robinson Cano, who hit into two of those double plays, including the one in the eighth. “He went out and pitched. Don't matter what kind of team they have. We're at the Major League level. If they're here, it's because they can compete and they can play with anyone. It's not because we have a better team on paper. That doesn't mean they can't go out and play and win a game.”

Alcantara retired the Mets in order in the ninth to complete the gem.

“It’s real important,” Alcantara said of his complete game. “You’ve got four days to be ready for your start, and you’ve got to keep working hard. Every time you go to the mound, you’ve got to give it 100 percent. And every time they give you the opportunity, you’ve got to be consistent.”

Consistency in his aggressiveness toward hitters is what manager Don Mattingly has been wanting to see out of his 23-year-old hurler.

“We’ve seen a couple of games like that last year, but he wasn’t able to finish them,” Mattingly said. “He used his stuff today.

“You’d love Sandy to be doing this every time he pitched, because you think that’s what he’s possibly capable of. But things take time. It takes experience, and it takes to get down the road and make some mistakes and go back to work and keep learning. So things don’t happen as fast as we’d like, but I like the fact that we’re improving.”

Alcantara helped his own cause in the first inning, spearing a one-hop liner behind his back off the bat of J.D. Davis. He also got defensive support from third baseman Brian Anderson, whose diving grab along the foul line an inning later robbed Pete Alonso of potential extra bases.

It was Alcantara's first win since March 31, his opening start of the season, an eight-inning outing against Colorado in which he allowed just four hits and no runs while striking out six.

“He was pretty good today,” Mattingly said. “Obviously he had electric stuff. Sandy was pounding the strike zone.”