The Miami Marlins (20-23) return home after a 10-game, three-city road trip which saw the squad win five of the final eight contests, including taking two-of-three in Philadelphia. Miami demonstrated its resilience and readiness to compete despite injury issues. Winning this series in Philadelphia proved the Marlins equipped to remain in the NL East hunt.
After losing two-of-three in Los Angeles, the Marlins bounced back in Philadelphia and were really one bad inning away from a three-game sweep. This comes after a stagnant offense crippled the team’s efforts early on the road trip.
Alcantara Lifts Marlins to Series Win in Philadelphia
Coming off the worst start of his five-year career, Sandy Alcantara proved his status as Miami’s ace. Alcantara ensured the Marlins would take the series against Philadelphia with a dominant outing.
The 25-year-old went 6.0 innings, allowing just two hits and three walks. He struck out nine, eight of those coming in the first four innings of work. 65 of his 100 pitches went for strikes, which is a vast improvement upon his last start. Prior to the game, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said they believed Alcantara was tipping his pitches during that disastrous second inning in LA. Alcantara worked with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., watching video and ultimately changing the grip in his glove.
As a result, Alcantara returned to his All-Star form and propelled Miami to the win over the Phillies. He relied heavily on his changeup, which he complimented with his sinker and four-seam fastball. Alcantara mixed in his slider occasionally.
Sandy Alcántara, Preposterous 93mph Changeup. 😵
Cutch's face. 😂 pic.twitter.com/wctyCwE8Hn
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 20, 2021
Getting this win proved to be an important one for the Marlins to keep pace in the division. The team was 2-3 on the trip after Alcantara’s last start, so to finish the trip 5-5, taking this series in Philadelphia, keeps the Marlins competitive in the tight NL East.
Marlins Bats Get Going in Philadelphia
The Marlins have suffered through prolonged scoring droughts this season, but in Philadelphia, the team found an encouraging offensive groove from big bats in the lineup. Shortstop Miguel Rojas has spoken repeatedly about the team’s new “loose hoop” mantra, and it seems to have caught on with Garrett Cooper and Brian Anderson.
On May 2nd, Cooper’s batting average sunk to a season-low .177 after an 0-for-4 performance in Washington. Since, however, Cooper has improved considerably.
Over his last 14 games, Cooper has a .295 batting average with four extra-base hits and three walks. Narrow that to his last seven, it’s a .350 average and 1.108 OPS with three extra-base hits and five RBI. It should be more, too, considering the official scorer in Philly marked an error when Cooper’s seventh hit should have been an RBI double.
“I know what I can do, and I think I was a little bit frustrated early on, not getting the big hits,” said Cooper. “Just take it day by day, like I said. I bring a different dimension to this lineup, you have another guy that can hit for power, it lengthens the lineup.”
A SECOND DECK SHOT FOR @CoopaLoop1‼️
— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) May 21, 2021
Anderson’s bat also seems to have come to life of late. After struggling throughout April and landing on the IL, Anderson’s production has steadily improved. He’s hit safely in seven games on the recent trip and sports a .313 batting average and 1.046 OPS with two doubles and a homer over the last week.
Marlins catchers, meanwhile, have struggled mightily of late. Sandy Leon and Chad Wallach are a combined 5-for-49 (.102) with 26 strikeouts over the last two weeks. This hole in the lineup may soon get filled by Jorge Alfaro, who recently resumed work with Triple-A Jacksonville.
Up Next: vs. New York Mets (20-17)
The Marlins return to loanDepot park ready to rock new threads and compete against the NL East-leading New York Mets. The team will don its beautiful City Connect uniforms and celebrate the first of their Hispanic Heritage nights this weekend. Fittingly, Miami honors Cuban Heritage on Saturday, sporting jerseys inspired by the Havana Sugar Kings, a Cuban minor league baseball team that played from 1946 to 1960.
These teams split two games during the second week of the season, including the Marlins’ 3-0 victory over Jacob deGrom on April 10 in New York. Sunday’s game was a rainout that caused some roster issues for the Marlins.
This series affords Miami another opportunity to climb higher in the NL East. New York holds a 3.0 game cushion on the Marlins.
— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) May 21, 2021
The Matchup in Miami
The strength of the Mets has been pitching. The team ranks fifth in MLB with a 3.29 ERA. Marcus Stroman, Friday’s starter, 3-4 with a 2.72 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Stroman allowed five earned runs in his last start Sunday, the most he’s allowed since joining the Mets. New York has scored nine runs total for Stroman in his past six starts.
The Mets issue this season, much like Miami, has been on offense. New York ranks last in runs-per-game (3.4) and home runs (30). Pete Alonso leads the Mets with six homers and 19 RBI, but he’s questionable with wrist soreness. Former Marlin Jonathan Villar ranks second on the team with four homers and 12 RBI. Francisco Lindor, meanwhile, has a .189 average with three homers and eight RBI.
Marlins pitchers give up only 0.88 home-runs-per-game (4th overall) and 3.85 runs-per-game (6th). The staff has posted a 3.60 ERA (7th) and held opposing batters to a .678 OPS (10th) and .231 batting average (13th). Miami’s offense checks in at 20th in batting average (.230), 24th in runs-per-game (3.8) and 27th n homers (39).
Over their last 10 games, New York is 6-4 with a .212 team batting average and 3.74 team ERA. They’ve been outscored by one run over that span. The Marlins are 5-5 with a .227 average and 4.77 ERA. Opponents outscored Miami by 12 runs over that span.
The Marlins expect to start John Curtiss (2-1, 3.15 ERA) as part of a bullpen day Friday. Pablo Lopez (1-3, 3.12 ERA) and Cody Poteet (1-0, 1.80 ERA) should take the hill Saturday and Sunday. The Mets have yet to announce their weekend starters.