Miami Marlins

The future begins. Rookie Sandy Alcantara triumphs in debut as Marlins rout the Mets

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) faces the New York Mets in his 2018 MLB debut at Marlins Park in Miami, Friday, June 29, 2018.
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) faces the New York Mets in his 2018 MLB debut at Marlins Park in Miami, Friday, June 29, 2018. snavarro@miamiherald.com

The Marlins hope Friday night was a preview of what their future holds.

You had Sandy Alcantara on the mound pitching his way to a victory.

And you had Lewis Brinson and JT Riddle each hitting home runs to help secure that decisive triumph.

There’s still a long road ahead, but the Marlins gave a tangible glimpse of their long-term goals Friday night during an 8-2 rout of the New York Mets at Marlins Park.

Alcantara, the Marlins’ top pitching prospect, had his highs and lows during his first career start but picked up his first major-league win.

"[Alcantara] did a great job and I think you can tell out there on the field, it kind of energized us all to have him up here doing what he does," Brinson said. "It was a great win."

Alcantara threw 98 pitches and walked five batters.

But he also limited the Mets to three hits and worked his way out of potentially disastrous innings twice and got a big assist on a third on a great defensive play by All-Star catching candidate J.T. Realmuto.

"He's still a work in progress, like we've said," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I think it's a good baseline to see the adjustments that he makes going forward. I think they'll continue."

Alcantara’s five-inning Marlins’ debut was enough for the 22-year old Dominican-born rookie to secure his first career victory in his first career start.

"I was super emotional because I’m working hard and I’m here and I did my best," Alcantara said.

Alcantara, the biggest acquisition in the Marlins’ deal with the Cardinals this past December for two-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna, allowed one run on three hits and struck out two.

Brinson, the only other high-profile player the Marlins (33-50) acquired in their big offseason trades this winter that has made it to the majors so far, got Miami’s offense going during a six-run third inning.

Brinson smoked a 90-mph fastball from Oswalt 403 feet into the left field seats for his 10th homer of the season. Brinson also singled and doubled, but fell short of the triple he needed for what would have been the Marlins’ first cycle when he grounded into a double play in the eighth.

“I’m not thinking too far ahead,” Mattingly said. “Just watching Sandy go, watching Brinson all year, to see him have success and throw a few hits out there is obviously a good feeling for him. We’ve tried to be patient and continue to help him grow. Just seeing Lewis enough now, I think there are areas that he can really take off and have a chance to be exciting, if he can grasp what we’re talking about.”

After Realmuto and Starlin Castro each drove in a run on back-to-back singles, Riddle hit a three-run homer into the right field seats to cap the outburst, which matched the most runs the Marlins have scored in an inning this year. It was also the first time this year the Marlins have had two players hit home runs in the same inning.

With his pitch count running high, Alcantara walked Jose Bautista with one out in the fifth. But then he induced Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a double play that ironically finished Alcantara’s most economical inning in terms of pitches (12).

Alcantara didn’t dial up his fastball over 100 mph, but he kept it consistently in the 94-96 mph range and mixed in a changeup he threw 35 times as well as 18 sliders and 11 sinkers to get eight swinging strikes.

With two runners on in the second inning, Realmuto picked off Cabrera at second base to end the threat. According to MLB's Statcast tracking, Realmuto's pop time on the throw was 1.88 seconds, which is faster than the league average 2.01 seconds.

“J.T. gave me a good throw, I put the tag on him, call was out, it changed the game,” Riddle said. “That right there is one of the reasons why he’s the best catcher in all of baseball, I think. For a catcher to be able to do that defensively plus the way he swings the bat? It’s very good.”

The Mets broke through for their only run off Alcantara in the fourth when catcher Devin Mesoraco doubled to left on a ball that sailed over Derek Dietrich and bounced off the wall. Despite issuing his fourth walk a batter later, Alcantara limited the damage by inducing an inning-ending ground out from pinch hitter Dominic Smith.

Kyle Barraclough had his career-best hitless streak snapped at 11 2/3 innings when Brandon Nimmo singled with one out in the ninth. It matched the second-longest streak in club history set by Armando Benitez in 2004. Benitez set the record (14 1/3 innings) that same year. Barraclough was the only MLB pitcher since 1921 per Stats LLC to allow one hit or fewer over a span of 20 appearances.

Barraclough, however, extended his scoreless inning streak to 19 2/3 innings and has not allowed a run in his past 20 appearances. It's the second-longest such active streak in the majors behind Arizona's Yoshihisa Hirano (21 2/3 innings).

The Marlins’ look at the future will continue on Saturday night when right-handed pitching prospect Pablo Lopez makes his major-league debut. Lopez is ranked Miami’s 20th-best prospect overall by MLBPipeline.com.

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