Alcantara ties season high in strikeouts

August 29th, 2019

MIAMI -- is known for throwing hard, and the Marlins’ lone All-Star had his sinker reach as high as 98.4 mph on Wednesday. But for all the velocity he possesses, the rangy, 6-foot-5 right-hander isn’t known for is racking up high strikeout totals.

That changed on Wednesday night, when Alcantara matched his season-high eight punchouts, first reached on May 19 in a complete-game shutout over the Mets. But Cincinnati did early damage on Aristides Aquino’s first-inning, three-run homer that set the tone in a 5-0 Miami loss at Marlins Park.

“I think we've seen Sandy enough to know that he stays in games,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He may have a rough inning here or there, but he seems to still end up not letting the game get too far out of hand on him. He has hung in there, for me.”

Alcantara averages 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings. But in his last two starts, he has 15 in 13 innings.

“I think that's going to grow, too,” Mattingly said. “He's got that power sinker, and his slider is getting better with the changeup. As he's able to start to run the ladder a little bit, that's where he's going to get his tickets. The punchouts are going to come from there.”

Cincinnati has won the first three in the four-game set, and is a perfect 6-0 against the Marlins in the season series.

Former Miami right-hander Anthony DeSclafani held the Marlins to two hits while striking out eight in seven scoreless innings. The Marlins were limited to just four hits on the game by the Reds pitching staff, and they were shut out for the 19th time this season.

The Marlins rotation has been going through a rough spell, and the club received more tough news on Wednesday when Jordan Yamamoto went on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain.

Alcantara has been doing his part picking up innings -- and the team. But the right-hander’s record fell to 4-12, and he hasn’t won since June 21 against the Phillies. It’s been a span of 11 starts, and he’s 0-6 with an ERA of 5.18 since his last win.

“I think overall, he did a good job,” catcher Bryan Holaday said. “Sandy kept us in the game. He battled. He didn't have his best stuff today. But, that's what you've got to do. When you don't have your best stuff, you've got to find a way to compete, and give us everything you've got. We got some good innings out of him.”

But in August, Alcantara has picked things up. He entered Wednesday with a 2.36 ERA in four starts this month.

“I just want to finish strong,” Alcantara said. “That's what I want.”

Against the Reds, Alcantara got into trouble with a one-out walk in the first inning to Joey Votto. Eugenio Suarez slapped a single to right, and Aquino blistered a three-run homer to left. Aquino set a Major League milestone with the blast. He’s the first player in the modern era -- since 1900 -- to have as many as 13 home runs in his first 100 plate appearances.

“Obviously, that first one hurt a little bit on the mistake,” Holaday said. “That's really the only mistake he made. He battled. It was a changeup. We were just trying to bury it, after all those sinkers in. But, we left it up and [Aquino] didn't miss it.”