Miami Marlins

Sandy Alcantara shines bright as Marlins knock off Phillies

Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara pitches during the second inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.
Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara pitches during the second inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

The early returns on the Marlins’ big winter trades have been underwhelming. At least at the major league level.

While Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are happy campers, wearing new uniforms for teams that are pushing for the playoffs, the collection of players the Marlins received in return for the three outfielders have made little to no impact in Miami so far.

Lewis Brinson has struggled to hit above the “Mendoza Line” (but is starting to show some late-season life) while Magneuris Sierra has struggled to hit much of anything. All of the others spent the summer developing in the minors.

Sandy Alcantara could be the exception.

Alcantara on Wednesday overpowered the Philadelphia Phillies with a masterful pitching performance, delivering seven scoreless innings in the Marlins’ 2-1 victory.

“That was some power stuff right there,” said manager Don Mattingly. “Fun to watch.”

Alcantara, who will turn 23 on Friday, was making only his second major league start and first since an armpit infection landed him on the disabled list. But his second outing was even better than his first for the Marlins when he held the Mets to a run on three hits over five innings on June 29.

On Wednesday, Alcantara flummoxed the Phils, who were bidding to pick up a game on the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East but instead left South Florida having lost two of three in the series -- the first series win for the Marlins since mid-August.

“He seemed aggressive all night,” Mattingly said. “He was on the attack tonight.”

Mattingly said if Alcantara proves that he can consistently pitch the same way he did Wednesday, the Marlins could be looking at a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for years to come.

“You talk about the potential of him,” Mattingly said. “Is it a top-of-the-rotation guy? And only he tells us that. Is he going to go out every time and have consistent stuff like that. When you start seeing that on a regular basis, then you’re talking about a guy that has the potential to be a top-of-the rotation guy.”

Austin Dean drove in both Marlins runs with a fielder’s choice and single. Alcantara and the Marlins didn’t need any more than that as the rookie right-hander pushed his record to 2-0 in his two starts. It’s a small sample size, to be sure. But Alcantara has an electric mix of pitches that befuddled the Phillies.

Dean and Alcantara were teammates for much of the season at Triple A New Orleans and the outfielder said the pitcher was the same Wednesday as he was in May and June.

“That was honestly the best I’ve seen him pitch this year,” Dean said. “It was lights out.”

Alcantara issued a pair of walks and hit a couple of batters. But the Phillies only seriously threatened once while he was on the mound when Carlos Santana doubled over Brinson’s head with one out int he third. Alcantara took care of the next two batters on ground ball outs, though, and it was smooth sailing from there.

The Phillies scored their only run after manager Don Mattingly went to his bullpen in the eighth and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in Jose Bautista on an 0-2, low-and-away slider from Kyle Barraclough.

The Phillies threatened again in the ninth, putting two aboard with one out. But Drew Steckenrider struck out the final two batters for his fourth save.

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Mattingly said Brian Anderson looks “mentally tired” and gave him the day off Wednesday. Anderson has regressed since the All-Star break, going from a Rookie of the Year candidate to an afterthought in the battle for the top rookie award.

“He looks tired,” Mattingly said. “He looks more mentally tired than physically tired. I think that’s what guys get this time of year. Just the at bats the last three or four days haven’t been very competitive. You have to keep fighting no matter whether you’re getting your hits or not.”

Anderson has gone 0 for 14 and struck out nine times this month. He is hitting just .227 with two homers since the All-Star break.

“I think you turn that mental side around,” Mattingly said. “No matter what you say about it, the other team’s played the same amount of games we have. It’s just an excuse in my mind. You have to be stronger than that mentally to compete because everybody’s in the same boat.”

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