Miami Marlins

Top prospect Alcantara struggles with command in Miami Marlins’ loss to Nationals

Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara pitches in the first inning of the Miami Marlins vs Washington Nationals game at Marlins Park, Tuesday, September 18, 2018.
Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara pitches in the first inning of the Miami Marlins vs Washington Nationals game at Marlins Park, Tuesday, September 18, 2018. pportal@miamiherald.com

After three solid starts to open his Major League career, Sandy Alcantara hit the metaphorical wall against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

The Marlins’ top pitching prospect barely made it through four innings and his offense couldn’t pick up the slack in a 4-2 loss to the Nationals.

Alcantara gave up six hits, walked another six, gave up three runs (all earned) and struck out just three over his four-inning start. He loaded the bases in three of the four innings.

The problem came with Alcantara’s command. While his fastball and sinker consistently stayed in the mid-90s, he managed to throw just 46 of his 91 pitches for strikes. Alcantara drops to 2-1 on the year and his ERA jumped from 1.42 to 2.35.

“I don’t know what happened tonight,” Alcantara said, “but I missed too much.”

Manager Don Mattingly added: “When we talk about young guys, I think this is what we see. We see good and then we see some ones that are not as good. Today obviously, the command didn’t seem to be there. A lot of misses, counts get bad and a lot of pitches in a short period of time. Something that he’ll be able to learn from.”

The Nationals (77-75) opened scoring with an Adam Eaton RBI single in the second that brought Matt Wieters home from third. An RBI bunt single from Trea Turner on the next at-bat plated Wilmer Difo for the early 2-0 lead. Anthony Rendon drove in the Nationals’ final two runs with a sacrifice fly in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth.

The Marlins’ attempts to rally fell short as Stephen Strasburg held Miami to just five hits and two runs in his six innings of work to improve to 9-7 on the season.

Peter O’Brien put the Marlins (59-92) on the board with a solo home run in the second and reached base on all four plate appearances, continuing his recent hot streak. O’Brien has now reached base in each of his last seven games, batting .467 in the process with three home runs, six RBI, five walks and just three strikeouts after recording just one hit in his first five games. O’Brien finished with two hits and a pair of walks.

“He has a plan,” Mattingly said. “You can tell he sticks to what he wants to do up there. He has some feel for what the pitcher’s doing.”

J.T. Realmuto added a second run with a two-out RBI single in the fifth that scored J.T. Riddle, but Brian Anderson struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning. The Marlins had one baserunner the rest of the night.

The Marlins struck out 15 times on Tuesday, marking the third time they had at least 15 players strike out in a game this season.

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