JUPITER, Fla.—Sandy Alcantara allowed two runners in the first but settled in after that on the way to 4.1 innings of shutout ball to go with five strikeouts and just two walks. He sat between 96-98 mph with his four-seamer, but his 90 mph changeup was really the star of the day with a late dart downward that the Braves were unable to handle. He was a little wild and inefficient, however, leading to an early exit after throwing 76 pitches when he had been scheduled to go five full frames.
When @sandyalcantar15 has his stuff working like this afternoon, you see the frontline starter ability. FB hitting 98 paired with 3 or more secondary pitches, including a CH sitting at 90-91. #Filthy @Marlins— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) March 10, 2019
The other star of the game was O’Brien, who broke out of a 2-for-23 slump to start the spring that included 14 strikeouts. His bloop RBI single off of Julio Teheran in the first gave the Fish their first lead of the day. Teheran would stymy the Fish for three innings after that before Kolby Allard would take his place in the fifth and promptly load the bases. That set the table again for the Hialeah native, who launched one down the line in left for a grand slam and a 5-1 lead.
The Marlins bullpen did their job to finish out the win, too. Riley Ferrell relieved Alcantara in the fifth and allowed the tying run in but would be credited with the win thanks to O’Brien’s heroics moments later. Sergio Romo pitched a 1-2-3 sixth with a strikeout before giving way to Drew Steckenrider, who has struggled so far in Grapefruit League play but allowed one hit in a scoreless inning. Austin Brice struck out one in the eighth and only allowed a runner to reach via hit-by-pitch. Tyler Kinley closed out the game, allowing a run in the ninth, but he struck out the side to secure the Marlins’ third straight spring win.
J.T. Riddle led off for the Fish, and while he struck out in the first, he reached base his other two times up, once courtesy of an error and the final time on a single. He was pinch-run for after that, but that runner would come around to score on the O’Brien homer. Isan Diaz had a productive day out of the two hole, walking and scoring in the first while adding a sacrifice bunt in the third. Monte Harrison looked overmatched in his two plate appearances with two swinging strikeouts.
The Marlins are off Monday but will face off against the Mets at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Tuesday. Hector Noesi will take the hill for the Fish with a 6.35 ERA and five strikeouts over 5.2 innings this spring. The Mets’ starter has yet to be determined.