NEW YORK -- At 23 years old, Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara is not quite a finished product. But he's getting closer.Alcantara took another step forward Thursday afternoon, giving up two runs in seven-plus innings. But on a day the rookie showed more growth on a big league mound, the bullpen
NEW YORK -- At 23 years old, Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara is not quite a finished product. But he's getting closer.
Alcantara took another step forward Thursday afternoon, giving up two runs in seven-plus innings. But on a day the rookie showed more growth on a big league mound, the bullpen wasn't able to lock down the victory. With two outs in the ninth inning, Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier delivered back-to-back home runs as the Mets walked off the Marlins, 4-3, in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citi Field.
"Sandy was good. The pitch count was down, he went late into the game. ... He did a great job," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
The Mets rally came off Kyle Barraclough, who was one out from recording his first save since July 21. Left-hander Adam Conley, who followed Alcantara, got three outs in the eighth inning, and then opened the ninth, getting Jay Bruce to pop out to first.
Barraclough retired Dominic Smith, but left a changeup down the middle to Conforto, and Frazier homered on a fastball.
"Again, pull side is worrisome," Mattingly said of the homers. "That's one of the things we've talked about. If somebody's going to beat you, [let them] beat you the opposite way. Obviously, Conforto can do that. You just feel better if he beats you on the other side of the field."
"[Comforto] said he wasn't even looking for a changeup, and I left it up," Barraclough said. "That was a good pitch to him. It was the right pitch. I've just got to execute it to him, and get it down. It kind of just ran into his barrel, and Frazier was kind of the same thing.
"Got ahead of him. Got ahead of all the hitters the last two months, and everything seems to kind of come together, and then you have a day like this. You make two mistakes and they make you play by putting it in the seats, as opposed to a single or a double or a triple, or anything other than what they just did."
Until the late heroics by the Mets, Alcantara was in line for his third win.
Making his third big league start, Alcantara yielded just two hits, struck out six and walked three.
"You take things from bad outings, bad experiences," Alcantara said through an interpreter. "But you just keep going. You stay focused and keep focused."
With September being a month the Marlins are using to help evaluate for their future, Alcantara has shown continued growth, especially in terms of mixing up his pitches. Along with a fastball that maxed at 98.2 mph Thursday, Alcantara threw 32 sliders. He induced nine ground ball outs.
The big blast he yielded was a two-run homer to Steven Matz, his pitching counterpart. Matz, too, impressed on the mound, giving up three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Peter O'Brien had a home run and drove in a run in the seventh inning that put the Marlins in front, 3-2. The run was charged to Matz, who allowed a leadoff double to Brian Anderson, before exiting with one out.
The Marlins and Mets played a doubleheader Thursday to make up for the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader being postponed due to rain. The elements impacted the entire series, starting off with Monday night's game being washed out.
Back-to-back home runs from O'Brien and Isaac Galloway gave the Marlins the lead in the second inning. It was the fourth time this season Miami teammates have homered in succession. For O'Brien, it was his first big league home run since Sept. 10, 2016, when the right-handed-hitting first baseman was with Arizona.
The Marlins lead was short-lived, because with two outs in the bottom of the frame, Matz crushed a two-run home run to left field. It was the left-hander's first career home run.
"It was just a bad pitch to Matz," Alcantara said. "Other than that, I was able to settle back in and get going."
In his three big league starts, Alcantara's ERA is 1.42.
"Ever since they made the decision to send me back to Triple-A," Alcantara said. "I took my time to focus on all my pitches, and attack the zone, as well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The way the ninth inning played out, the Marlins could have used some insurance runs. They almost had at least two more in the seventh inning. After O'Brien's single gave them a 3-2 lead, the Marlins had the bases full with two outs when Miguel Rojas smoked a line drive that shortstop Jack Reinheimer made a terrific leaping play on. Statcast™ had the exit velocity on the liner at 103.1 mph, and a hit probability of 77 percent. Miami would have scored perhaps two if the ball had fallen for a hit.
Barraclough now has seven blown saves, and the Marlins have 22 blown saves on the season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With one out in the second inning, O'Brien and Galloway delivered their back-to-back shots. O'Brien's traveled to right field, and Galloway's went to left. Per Statcast™, O'Brien's drive projected at 387 feet, with an exit velocity of 108.7 mph, and a launch angle of 40 degrees. Galloway's shot was 408 feet, with an exit speed of 102.9 mph and a 31-degree launch angle.
HE SAID IT
"J.T. [Realmuto] and I were in sync. Every time J.T. called a slider, I was right there with him. When he called it, I was ready to throw it." -- Alcantara, on his slider
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.