Miami Marlins

Marlins’ top pitching prospect impresses yet again, but Mets walk off against bullpen

Miami Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara delivers a pitch during the first inning in the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in New York.
Miami Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara delivers a pitch during the first inning in the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in New York. AP

Sandy Alcantara likely wants one pitch back from his start against the New York Mets on Thursday.

He left the 95 mph fastball up just enough for Mets pitcher Steven Matz to launch into the left field bleachers for a two-run home run in the second inning.

Rookie mistake in his first road start as a major league pitcher.

Alcantara shook off the mistake, stepped back onto the mound, and calmly prepared for his next pitch.

He didn’t give up another hit the rest of his start, but his bullpen couldn’t hold on. Needing one out to close the game, Kyle Barraclough gave up back-to-back solo home runs to hand the Mets a 4-3 win to open the doubleheader at Citi Field. Thursday marks the fifth time the Marlins have given up a walk-off home run this year. Barraclough is responsible for four of them. The Marlins dropped the second game of the doubleheader 5-2.

“Bang-bang at the end,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the first game’s finish.

It ruined a solid first road game for Alcantara, who allowed just two hits and two runs — both on that second-inning home run — while striking out six and walking three. Alcantara retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced, with the lone two base-runners coming via walk. The first came in the fourth on four pitches to Todd Frazier, who was caught stealing three pitches into the next at-bat. The second was to Kevin Plawecki to lead off the eighth and end his day.

“It was just a bad pitch to Matz,” Alcantara said, “but other than that, I was able to settle back in and get going. ... You take things from bad outings and bad experiences, but you keep going and keep learning. You have to stay focused and keep working.”

Marlins Mets Baseball(2).JPG
Miami Marlins relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough, left, reacts as New York Mets’ Todd Frazier, center background, runs the bases after hitting a walkoff home run during the ninth inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) Frank Franklin II AP

In total, Alcantara threw 99 pitches in the win, with 62 going for strikes. His fastball and sinker remained steady in the mid-to-upper 90s, with the four-seamer topping out at 98 mph. His slider, while inconsistent on Thursday, served as his strikeout pitch of choice.

“[Catcher] J.T. [Realmuto] and I were in sync. Every time, J.T. would call a slider, I’d just be there with him mentally and was ready to throw it,” Alcantara said.

And while the sample size is small, Alcantara holds a 1.42 ERA after his first three MLB starts and has given up just eight hits while striking out 14 in 19 innings of work.

“It was good,” Mattingly said. “His pitch count was down going deep into the game. He did a great job.”

It seemed the offense gave Alcantara just enough support to give him his third consecutive win.

Peter O’Brien and Isaac Galloway gave the Marlins the early 2-0 lead after hitting back-to-back home runs in the second before Matz tied the game in the bottom half of the frame. O’Brien, a Miami Gardens native who played his senior year of college at the University of Miami, then scored the go-ahead run in the seventh on a single to right field.

Adam Conley threw 1 1/3 scoreless inning to put the Marlins within two outs of the win before handing the ball to Barraclough. The struggling reliever managed to get Dominic Smith to ground out before surrendering the home runs to Michael Conforto on an 87 mph changeup and Todd Frazier on a 94 mph fastball to give the game away. It was Barraclough’s seventh blown save of the year.

Game 2 recap

The Marlins (57-89) took a 2-0 lead on Miguel Rojas’ second home run of the season before the Mets (68-78) scored the final five runs of the game. Tomas Nido’s first home run of the season cut the Marlins’ lead in half in the fifth before a Conforto’s two-run double gave the Mets their first lead of the game. New York tacked on two more runs in the seventh on a Conforto RBI single and a Dominic Smith RBI groundout.

Jason Vargas earned the win after giving up just two runs on three hits in six innings of work. The Marlins’ Jeff Brigham was charged with the loss after giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings.

The Marlins struck out 13 times in the second game.

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