The grounds crew at National Park had a hard time keeping the bases pristine white on Monday due to the steady drizzle that fell throughout the evening and the constant stream of mud-spiked foot traffic resulting from the poor pitching of Sandy Alcantara and Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg was bad. But Alcantara was worse.
The Marlins lost 7-3 for two major reasons: they never managed to break through against Strasburg despite forcing him to throw 100 pitches in only four innings while the Nationals made Alcantara pay for his many mistakes.
Alcantara, like Strasburg, only managed to make it through four. But his outing was as messy as the weather.
He gave up seven hits. He walked five. And though he was able to wiggle out of jams in two of the four frames, he was unable to do so in a disastrous fourth inning in which he gave up home runs on consecutive pitches to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto.
“Rough day,” said manager Don Mattingly.
It was the second straight poor performance by Alcantara, whom the Marlins are counting on for their starting rotation next season. Alcantara’s pitching line last week against the Nationals was nearly identical to his one Monday, with a lack of strike zone command leading to his downfall in each.
He walked 11 batters in only eight total innings of work in the two games. More perplexing: all 11 walks in the two games were to left-handed hitters.
“When he’s not aggressive, that’s kind of what you get,” Mattingly said. “He wants to throw the two-seamer instead of using the four-seamer, and the you get the ball just running off the plate.”
Said Alcantara: “It’s another bad day. I was a little out of control today.”
Strasburg wasn’t much better on Monday, walking four. But he limited the damage, holding the Marlins to a run during his short stint. The Marlins stranded 10 batters in the first five innings, including the bases loaded in the fifth when reliever Justin Miller struck out Magneirus Sierra and pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega to avoid a big inning.
“We had our chances,” Mattingly said. “One of those games where we had plenty of opportunities.”
NOTE: Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro returned home to South Florida before Monday’s game to be with his wife, who went into labor. Mattingly said he expected Castro to rejoin the team in a few days.
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