Alcantara allows just 2 hits in 8 innings, shuts down Angels

Sandy Alcantara is a throwback and part of what makes him a modern day prodigy in MLB. He’s redefining the masterful start by returning to what used to be the standard: If he gives up a run or two or doesn’t hit double-digit strikeouts, he doesn’t care as long as he gives the Miami Marlins the seven or eight innings, from that he knows he should have.

There are levels of masterpiece, however, and Alcantara’s latest model may have just set a new standard for the hopeful Cy Young Award.

With 107 pitches, Alcantara went eight innings, giving up just two hits, no walks, and no runs, and hitting out 10, including twice Mike Trout. The Marlins defeated the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 in Miami to claim their sixth straight win, moving within .500 for the first time in almost two months.

“He’s just doing it differently than everyone in the game is doing right now,” said catcher Jacob Stallings. “He just hit too many people tonight. That’s why he couldn’t walk nine.”

It was a star-studded showcase opportunity for Alcantara, who delivered his best start of the year and further solidified his case of competing for the National League at the July 19th 2022 MLB All-Star Game.

His ERA is down to 1.82 – second best in the NL – and his 123 1/3 innings is 19 more than anyone in the majors. He also has the fourth most strikeouts in the league and has served at least eight innings eight times — something no one else in MLB has done more than three times.

He played a perfect game in the fifth inning before giving up a soft-hit single with two outs and never letting anyone reach third base with fewer than two outs. In six combined plate appearances against Alcantara, Trout, and Superstar-designated hitter Shohei Ohtani combined to go 1-of-6 with two strikeouts and a measly infield single.

Trout and Ohtani have won four MLB Most Valuable Player Awards together and could be the top two players in the league. If so, then Alcantara might be the best player — after all, he leads the majors in wins over substitutes, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

“Sandy puts on a show every time he hits,” said manager Don Mattingly, and this time a crowd of 13,338 turned out at LoanDepot Park to see it.

He wasted no time setting one on Tuesday. In the first inning, Alcantara hit 100 mph five times, beating Trout Looking and getting Ohtani to the floor to end a 1-2-3 inning.

The game plan, Stallings said, was to pump fastballs against the Angels, who prefer to swing at low pitches. It sparked some concern for the 32-year-old backstop.

“I was a little concerned that he would wear himself down,” Stallings said, but it never did. The radar gun flashed 14 times at 100 mph and his three fastest pitches came in 94th, 103rd and 106th.

Mattingly said he originally planned to send Alcantara back out for the ninth inning until the end of the eighth was long enough to give him a break. Relief pitcher Tanner Scott took a 2-0 lead thanks to two solo homers from outfielders Garrett Cooper and Bryan De La Cruz and made his 10th save of the season despite giving up a run.

The decision, Mattingly said, had more to do with prioritizing Alcantara’s long-term health than with concerns that he might be too rusty to finish his third full game of the season. He should have faced Trout again, and it wouldn’t have been too much of a problem – Alcantara won 2 of 3 showdowns with the all-star outfielder and gave up an infield single in the third.

In the fourth inning, he hit Trout by pumping six pitches across the plate at 99 mph and finished the nine-pitch at-bat by zipping one of those late-fading fastballs past the 31-year-old star by nearly 15 inches interruption.

“I just went inning after inning and scored the hitter,” Alcantara said. “If you don’t stand a chance against my fastball, I have to use it, and I used it a lot tonight.”

In the seventh, he gave up his second and final goal of the game to Trout when shortstop Miguel Rojas failed to get a long throw to first base in time. It triggered the most difficult situation of the game for Alcantara and navigated it calmly.

Ohtani was next and threw a ground ball straight back at Alcantara. Instead of making the easy play and throwing to first, he turned to second, planted his feet and fired a punch at Rojas to bring down the leading runner. After Ohtani stole second base, Alcantara got Los Angeles outfielder Taylor Ward to fly into midfield, which pushed Ohtani into third place, and then beat Jared Walsh with a 101-mile sinker to leave Miami (39th). -40) to keep a 2-0 lead.

Stallings pointed to Alcantara after the Angels’ bat swung through the gravity-defying last pitch of the half-inning — a pitch with triple-digit speed of the best fastballs and nearly 30 inches of movement as if it were a breaking ball. Alcantara did nothing else, than leaving the mound: It was his 94th pitch of the game and he wasn’t done yet. In the eighth, he added two more strikeouts.

At the end of the seventh, Stallings reached base with a lone single and struck up a conversation with Walsh at first base.

“That pitch,” Walsh said, “was a beat the entire time until I was swinging and it was moving like two feet.”

However, he left out one crucial detail.

“And,” he said to Walsh, “it was 101.”

Stalling can’t help but feel dizzy.

“It’s an honor to catch him,” he said. “He’s just something special, man.”

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Miami Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2) is congratulated by third baseman Jon Berti (5) after he was hit in a wild field by Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Keynan Middleton ( 99) May 4, 2022 in Miami, Florida. David Santiago dsantiago@miamiherald.com

The latest on Chisholm, Berti

The Marlins are confident Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s back injury won’t keep him out as long as Brian Anderson’s did last month.

Chisholm, 24, was put on the 10-day injured list last Wednesday after battling a back injury for about a week. He’s up in Jupiter now, doing mobility exercises and trying to get fit for game action as soon as possible.

Mattingly, however, said Chisholm’s diagnosis was similar to Anderson’s and Anderson’s almost exactly a month after he went on IL in May.

“Hopefully we’re not there,” said Mattingly. “We don’t think we are, but we’ll see how it goes.”

The timing isn’t great for Chisholm: the star middle infielder is one of the finalists starting from second base for the NL in the MLB All-Star Game, and there’s a good chance he’ll still be in the IL.

“We’re trying to be conservative and make sure he’s ready for the long haul,” Mattingly said.

That long-term view is also why Jon Berti was absent from Tuesday’s lineup for the second year in a row. The speedy utility player is dealing with some “tightness” in his “lower extremities,” Mattingly said, and Miami is hoping back-to-back days off will keep the 32-year-old fresh as he embarks on a new career path high in games played.

Berti entered the leading MLB on Tuesday with 22 stolen bases.

“We feel like the two days will be really beneficial,” said Mattingly. “He’s a guy we don’t want to lose at this point. He was too valuable. He does too many things.”

A number of pitchers across the organization are also making progress on their recoveries: Louis Head threw a 19-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday, Edward Cabrera has a 25-pitch bullpen session on Monday pitches and is scheduled for another bullpen session Thursday, Jesus Luzardo threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, and Sixto Sanchez will throw a 30-pitch side session on Wednesday.

Pitcher Cody Poteet also began a rehabilitation task Monday, starting and pitching two unsuccessful innings for Class A Jupiter.

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Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) throws the ball during the first inning of an MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at LoanDepot Park in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Daniel A. Varela dvarela@miamiherald.com

Next

The most unique sports show takes center stage in South Florida: Ohtani, the Angels’ two-way sensation, will hit the mound Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. as the starting pitcher for Los Angeles (37-45) as the Marlins wrap up their quick two-game -Homestand off.

Trevor Rogers will take the hill to Miami and is still looking for some consistency this year after being named to the 2021 MLB All-Star Game as a rookie last season. The starting pitcher has just a 5.56 ERA so far this year, although his last game was one of his best of the season as he gave up just one run in five innings for the Washington Nationals on Friday.

This story was originally published July 5, 2022 9:32 p.m.

David Wilson, a native of Maryland, is the Miami Herald’s sports coverage janitor.

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