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Sandy Alcantara’s career day seals series split against Rockies

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Alcantara had the perfect combination of velocity, movement and command, allowing the Marlins bullpen to get a much-needed rest.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Miami Marlins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Right-hander Sandy Alcantara went a career-high eight scoreless innings on Sunday afternoon, aggressively attacking the strike zone against the Rockies. The Marlins took the lead in the fourth on Jorge Alfaro’s two-run single and held on late for a 3-0 win, splitting the season-opening series.

Jon Gray: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K (89 pitches)

Sandy Alcantara: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB(!!!), 6 K (92 pitches)

On the heels of an uneven Spring Training (he walked 11 batters in 15 13 innings), Alcantara rarely fell behind in the count during his regular season debut. He came out fastballs blazin’, topping out at 99.3 mph with his four-seamer and averaging 96.1 mph with it, according to Baseball Savant. However, the 23-year-old also picked up strikeouts with his curveball and slider—he had everything working.

Even so, Alcantara allowed plenty of balls in play. Credit his fielders for converting nearly all of their opportunities.

The Marlins hoped to get the newly acquired Alfaro plenty of spring reps in the batter’s box and behind the plate. A minor knee injury scrapped those plans, unfortunately, so he had a built-in excuse for getting off to a slow start to the regular season.

But “El Oso” has made a solid fist impression, anyway. His base hit up the middle put the Marlins ahead for good on Sunday. More importantly, he and Alcantara were perfectly in sync as a battery.

JT Riddle added insurance with a no-doubt home run in the bottom of the seventh. He heads into April leading the Fish in that category with two, continuing to make the case that he deserves semi-regular playing time.

With every other Miami reliever appearing during the first three games, Don Mattingly selected well-rested Wei-Yin Chen to handle the save situation. Mattingly regretted it almost immediately, turning to Sergio Romo instead after Chen began the ninth inning by allowing a double and a walk. (You already know how I feel about Chen remaining on the Marlins roster.)

Alcantara, Pablo López and Trevor Richards were even better than advertised this weekend.

That being said, I feel it’s important to pump the brakes just a little bit; despite getting into the postseason, the Rockies were a dreadful offensive team on the road in 2018. Let’s see this rotation of #BabyFacedAces a few times through before jumping to conclusions.

The Fish will attempt to extend their winning streak to three games on Monday night when the division rival Mets come to town. Probable starters are left-handers Steven Matz and Caleb Smith. First pitch approximately 7:10 p.m.

Rockies vs. Marlins box score (MLB.com)

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