Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins split series with Cleveland Indians after eighth-inning collapse

Don Mattingly explains why the Marlins fired their hitting coach

The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.
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The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.

For a moment, Martin Prado gave the Miami Marlins’ offense a spark. With two outs and a 1-2 count in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians, Prado belted a four-seam fastball from former teammate Nick Wittgren that grazed the top of the left-field wall at Progressive Field for a game-tying home run.

“You feel like ‘OK, we have a chance to steal one,’” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

The rally attempt was short lived.

The Marlins gave up four runs in the bottom half of the inning and the offense was quickly retired in the ninth for a 6-2 loss Wednesday to split the two-game series. Miami opened the series with a 3-1 win on Tuesday.

Relief pitchers Adam Conley and Tayron Guerrero combined to give up four hits, a walk and a hit by pitch in the eighth.

The Marlins (7-17) played from behind for the bulk of the game following another shaky start from Sandy Alcantara and minimal production at the plate. Alcantara, the 23-year-old starting pitcher, barely made it through five innings on the mound. He threw 84 pitches — just 48 strikes — but only gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks.

“I thought he was OK today,” Mattingly said. “I didn’t think he had his best stuff, but he hung in there and limited the damage.”

The Indians (13-10) opened scoring when Jose Ramirez belted a first-pitch home run to right in the first inning and doubled their lead in the third when Ramirez hit an RBI single to center field that scored Leonys Martin, who reached on a single and advanced to second one at-bat earlier.

They had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth but Alcantara eliminated the threat with a strikeout and groundout.

Through five starts, Alcantara is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA. After opening the year with eight shutout innings, he has only gone longer than five innings in one of his following four starts.

“I’ve got to keep working,” Alcantara said.

The Marlins broke up the shutout in the fifth when Jon Berti’s sacrifice fly scored Jorge Alfaro and tied the game on Prado’s home run in the eighth. It was Prado’s first home run since July 5, 2018, and came a day after recording his 1,500th career hit.

“This game, sometimes you live on mistakes,” Prado said. “Fortunately for me, I put a good swing on the ball, tied the game there and put us in a good spot.”

Then came the Indians’ onslaught. Conley walked Carlos Gonzalez and gave up a single to Jason Kipnis to open the frame before Kevin Plawecki popped up a bunt for the first out. A Jake Bauers RBI single up the middle brought the go-ahead run home. Conley struck out Max Moroff before handing the ball to Guerrero, who gave up an RBI single to Francisco Lindor, hit Martin and gave up an RBI double to Ramirez before getting out of the inning.

The Marlins, who finished with just five hits, went down in order in the ninth inning.

This and that

Relief pitcher Jose Quijada made his MLB debut on Wednesday, facing four batters in the sixth inning. He struck out two batters and gave up a double and a walk.

Brian Anderson extended his streak of safely reaching base to 12 games with his two-out single in the eighth. He is hitting .341 (15 for 44) in that span.

The Marlins continue their road swing with a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.