Sandy Alcantara struck out Phil Gosselin to finish the sixth inning and made his way to the dugout one final time.
Just like that, the Miami Marlins rookie pitcher’s stellar close to the 2019 season had come to an end.
Alcantara held the Phillies to one run over his final six innings of the season and struck out five to help the Marlins to a 4-3 win at Citizens Bank Park to wrap up the year.
“I always say I want to finish strong,” Alcantara, the Marlins’ lone All-Star this season, said. “You saw what I did today. Now, I can go home happy.”
It was a fitting stamp to Alcantara’s strong two-month run to finish the season.
The 6-5, 197-pound righty posted a 2.73 ERA (21 earned runs in 69 1/3 innings) over his final 10 starts of the season. Alcantara struck out 58 batters while walking just 18 in that stretch. He had seven quality starts, defined as giving up no more than three earned runs while pitching at least six innings.
His six-inning performance on Sunday was more of the same — and sets him up to be the heavy favorite heading into the offseason to be the Marlins’ Opening Day starter for the 2020 season.
“Really good. I think Sandy wanted nine today,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You could tell the way he was pitching. He was always attacking. He was on the hunt today. He would have loved to go nine, but he pitched the way he should have. He got the results.”
It capped a year in which he made all 32 of his scheduled starts — the only Marlins pitcher to do so this season.
He struck out 151 batters, behind just Jose Fernandez’s 187 in 2013 and Scott Olsen’s 166 in 2006 for most by a Marlins rookie in franchise history.
His 3.88 ERA is second-best for a qualified rookie starter in franchise history.
He was one of nine pitchers to throw multiple complete games in 2019 and finished in a four-way tie for second among all pitchers by getting his defense to turn 23 double plays.
And, on Sunday, he helped the Marlins close out a 57-105 season with a win.
“I felt great about what my team was doing in the game and what I did tonight, too,” Alcantara said.