The Miami Marlins hadn’t won on Opening Day since 2014. The last time they did, Jose Fernandez took the mound for Miami and struck out nine Rockies en route to a 10-1 win. For the 2020 season, Sandy Alcantara toed the rubber, becoming the youngest Opening Day starter for Miami since Fernandez. His seven strikeouts were also the most since Fernandez’s nine in 2014. Alcantara’s performance helped spur the Marlins win.
Alcantara entered the game with a 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA versus the Phillies, including a 2-0 mark with a 1.32 ERA at Citizens Bank Park. He’s a breakout candidate for the Marlins this season and his performance on Friday showed why.
Over 6.2 innings pitched, Alcantara posted seven strikeouts, surrendering just three hits, two walks and one earned run. He induced seven ground-ball outs including one double play. He relied mostly on a fastball-changeup-slider combination and kept hitters off balance all night.
Alcantara particularly flummoxed the middle of Philadelphia’s lineup. He dominated Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, keeping them 0-for-8 with four strikeouts and just one walk.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly pulled Alcantara from the game in the seventh after 87 total pitches.
“I was ready [to finish it],” Alcantara said after the Marlins win. “I see [Mattingly come to the mound] and I’m thinking ‘Oh my God. I’m done, but I don’t want to give him the ball. I want to be on the mound.’ But I respect his decision.”
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 25, 2020
“His stuff is overpowering, when he stays aggressive and attacks the strike zone,” Mattingly said. “Then we were able to get him some runs, which takes the pressure off and gives us some breathing room.”
New Additions Contributed to Marlins Wins as well
The breathing room for Alcantara came thanks to the Marlins offseason additions. Jonathan Villar‘s sac-fly in the third inning drove in the first run of the year for Miami. Then Jesus Aguilar broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning when he deposited an 0-2 breaking ball from Aaron Nola 409 feet away in left-center.
Corey Dickerson helped chase Nola from the game when he lined a double to right field three pitches later. Dickerson finished the game 2-for-4, scoring a run on a wild pitch in the sixth.
Francisco Cervelli, subbing in for Jorge Alfaro who landed on the 10-day IL prior to the game, played well, too. He registered the first hit and scored the first run of the year. Cervelli finished 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He called an excellent game for Alcantara.
The addition of the DH to the National League also paid dividends for the Marlins. In what would have been the pitcher’s spot, Miguel Rojas went 2-for-3 with a walk, stolen base and run scored. Garrett Cooper manned the DH spot went 1-for-4 with a two-out RBI double in the sixth inning.
“It’s good to get on the board,” Mattingly said of the Marlins win. “Feels like a big win, to be honest with you.”
The Marlins are back at it this afternoon at 4:05 PM. Caleb Smith starts for Miami versus Zack Wheeler. Smith was 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA and 168 K in 2019. He surrendered 33 HRs, which is something he’ll need to improve upon in 2020. In four career starts versus the Phillies, Smith is 1-2 4.50 ERA with 19 K over 18 innings pitched.