Don Mattingly on offensive woes: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything quite like this’
Sandy Alcantara pumped his right hand into his glove as Dominic Smith’s groundball in the eighth inning rolled to Miguel Rojas and was quickly turned for an inning-ending double play.
It quickly got Alcantara out of his lone jam on Sunday afternoon against the New York Mets.
Three outs later, the real celebration began.
Alcantara threw a complete-game shutout to lead the Miami Marlins to a 3-0 win over the Mets in front of 15,983 to secure a three-game sweep at Marlins Park. It’s the Marlins’ first series sweep since Sept. 18-20, 2017, which also came against the Mets at Marlins Park.
“I never gave up,” said Alcantara, who threw the Marlins’ first complete-game shutout since Edinson Volquez’s no-hitter on June 3, 2017, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Alcantara simply did it all.
He outdueled the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, both of whom had matching perfect games through the third inning.
He made a pair of defensive plays on the mound, including a behind-the-back grab on a groundout two batters into the game.
And he dropped down a perfectly executed bunt in the sixth, a move that turned into an infield single and helped the Miami Marlins break open a scoreless game.
The hard-throwing righty, who has struggled with command and pitch placement at times this season, retired the first 10 batters he faced and needed just 89 pitches from start to finish.
“You can’t really script that one right there,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Alcantara struck out eights Mets batters and faced the minimum through seven innings before running into a minor jam in the eighth.
He walked Pete Alonso on four pitches to open the frame and then allowed Adeiny Hechavarria to reach on a throwing error on a misplayed groundball two batters later. After pinch-hitter Smith worked a 3-0 count, Alcantara got him to ground into a double play to eliminate the threat.
The two hits he gave up — both by third baseman J.D. Davis — were erased when Robinson Cano grounded into double plays.
And Alcantara had his success despite the fact that close to three-quarters of his pitches were outside the strike zone. The Mets (20-25) swung and missed on 19 pitches — 15 of which were out of the zone.
“Just electric stuff,” Mattingly said. “His pitch count was way down. Early strikes, a lot of strikes. Everything worked today.”
The Marlins (13-31) broke up Syndergaard’s perfect game bid in the fifth on a Neil Walker single and opened scoring in the sixth when Curtis Granderson grounded into a double play to bring Rosell Herrera home from third. Herrera, a late addition to the starting lineup in place of Jon Berti (left oblique strain), opened the sixth inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on Alcantara’s bunt single. They added an insurance run in the seventh on a Miguel Rojas sacrifice fly, which scored Walker. A Curtis Granderson home run in the eighth off reliever Seth Lugo closed scoring.
“You’re trying to simplify things as much as you can,” Walker said. “When you’ve got the deGrom’s on the mound and the Syndergaard’s, you know they have the fastball that can put you away, but they also have good offspeed. You pay attention to how they’re pitching throughout the lineup. ... Obviously three runs was enough today.”
It put a cap on a needed three-game stretch for the Marlins, who entered the series with seven consecutive losses. They gutted through an 8-6 win on Friday during which the Mets had a late rally in the eighth fall short and followed it up with a two-hit shutout led by Pablo Lopez on Saturday for a 2-0 win to clinch the series.
Marlins pitching held the Mets scoreless over the final 19 innings of the series.
“It’s obviously a good feeling to put some games together instead of one here and then you lose three or four or five,” Mattingly said. “It builds confidence in that room that we can do this.”