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MIN 7, MIA 4: Ninth inning rally falls short, Berríos’ dominant outing silences Marlin hitters

Sandy Alcantara’s second-half struggles continue in a forgettable start versus the Minnesota Twins.

Minnesota at Miami Jennifer King/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

MIAMI—On a day teeming with never-ending updates surrounding the July 31 trade deadline, two All-Star pitchers went head-to-head at Marlins Park in what was foreseen to be an electric pitchers’ duel. Following a night with only eight hits and three runs combined between both the Twins and the Marlins, José Berríos and Sandy Alcántara both took the mound for their respective teams in hopes of replicating that narrative.

However, the second contest of this three-game interleague series would prove to be far different from the first, and for nearly its entirety, the Twins utterly dominated the Marlins.

As has been the case throughout the 2019 season, the Twins would live up to their home-run hitting reputation with authority, ambushing Alcántara early in the game and having him removed within five innings of play.

During that span, the Twins hammered three home runs—accounting for half of their hits against Alcántara—and drove in six runs in what would ultimately result in a relatively short start from the Marlins’ lone All-Star. Their seventh run would come directly after Alcántara was replaced with Wei-Yin Chen on a single by Jonathan Schoop that scored Marwin Gonzalez, although Alcántara was responsible for the run.

On the defensive end for the Twins, defense was hardly even necessary, as José Berríos pitched seven dominant shutout innings allowing only two hits without issuing a single walk. The Opening Day starter for the Twins not only kept the Fish off the bases, but he bulldozed through their lineup every successive inning he pitched, striking out 11 hitters and throwing no more than 12 pitches in six of his seven innings of work.

In this case, the final score does not tell the full story of the ballgame. Despite cracking the scoreboard for four runs and significantly narrowing the deficit, the Marlins would remain with two hits and no runs until the ninth inning.

Leading off the ninth, three consecutive singles from Jon Berti, Miguel Rojas, and Yadiel Rivera put Brian Anderson in the spotlight to do some damage. Anderson would execute, drilling his second grand slam of the season to Autonation Alley and bringing the Marlins within three runs of the Twins with no outs in the ninth.

Unfortunately for the Fish, their gallant last-ditch effort would prove to be inadequate as the next three hitters—Garrett Cooper, Starlin Castro, and Martin Prado—would all be retired via the strikeout, leaving the final score at 7-4 in favor of the Twins.

Starting Pitcher Stat Line and Outing Analysis

José Berríos: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K

In far too many ways, José Berríos’ outing needs no further deconstruction. The numbers are undeniably impressive, and this is arguably one of his most remarkable starts of the season.

However, the real story is not what he did, but how he did it. José Berríos threw 81 pitches, eight of which were changeups. The rest? Fastballs and curveballs. Berríos threw 73 fastballs and curveballs, essentially using a repertoire comparable to that of a relief pitcher. Boasting pinpoint command all night long, José Berríos kept the Marlin bats quiet nearly three times through the lineup, striking out six hitters with his fastball and five with his curve.

Berríos’s strong command and exceptional efficiency proved to be more than enough to frustrate Marlin hitters, generate weak contact off the bat, and dominate an aggressive lineup through seven innings.

Sandy Alcántara: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO, 3 HR

As is the case with Berríos’ start, crooked numbers speak for themselves, but in quite the opposite fashion.

Minnesota Twins v Miami Marlins
Sandy Alcántara throws a pitch during the second inning in a home game versus the Minnesota Twins on July 31, 2019.
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Alcántara struggled with his command from the very beginning, walking the very first hitter he faced in Max Kepler and walking three more in the third inning. Despite getting away with outs early on, his early inconsistencies would force Alcántara to diversify the pitches he would throw.

While his outing primarily consisted of fastballs and changeups, he also threw numerous sliders, sinkers, and curveballs. Once Alcántara finally did locate the plate and find greater consistency in the strike zone, the once-contained Twins pounced on him to slug three home runs on three different pitch types (fastball, slider, changeup).

In combination with his inconsistency, Alcántara’s pitch count floated well above Berríos’ the whole game. When the fourth inning began, for example, Alcántara’s pitch count was already at 80 while Berríos’ was at 40.

Disappointingly, Alcántara’s forgettable start drowned the Marlins as the seven runs he allowed were the only ones given up by any Marlins pitcher in the game.

Notable Offensive Performances

Minnesota Twins:

Max Kepler: 1-1, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB

Mitch Garver: 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI

Eddie Rosario: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI

Miami Marlins:

Brian Anderson: 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI

Twins vs Marlins Box Score (Baseball Theater)

Fish Picks answer key