On the day where team CEO and famous No. 2 Derek Jeter took the stage to the backdrop of some of the game’s all-time greats in Cooperstown, Sandy Alcantara, ironically enough, wearer of No. 22, delivered a Hall of Fame performance on the rubber in a storybook victory in an otherwise lost season.
Over nine innings, the Marlins’ ace threw a career-high 114 pitches and struck out a career-best 14 New York Mets, a team clinging to its life in the NL Wild Card hunt. Per MLB Stats on Twitter, Alcantara became the first Marlins pitcher to punch out 14 hitters in a game since Dan Straily in 2017. The 25-year old is less than two weeks removed from setting a previous career-high in K’s when he punched out 12 Cinncinatti Reds in a 6-1 Marlins’ victory on August 28th.
Sandy Alcantara shoves against the Mets and K’s 14 pic.twitter.com/oL1gmS1TFZ— MLB Truths (@TruthsMlb) September 9, 2021
Alcantara’s final pitch, a slider that had right fielder Michael Conforto, who’d previously homered in the 7th inning, shaking his head, registered at 93 miles-per-hour. 19 of his 58 fastballs Wednesday night registered at or above 100 on the radar gun. Alcantara also induced 27 swings-and-misses, good enough for a 42-percent whiff rate.
MICHAEL CONFORTO CLUTCH AGAIN— Mets'd Up Podcast (@MetsdUp) September 9, 2021
“That stuff was filthy,” emphatically uttered manager Don Mattingly.
As has been the case for most of his Marlins’ tenure, though, the bats would fail to back the right-hander, as the score would sit at one-a-piece in a game that headed into extra innings.
For New York, veteran Rich Hill, whom the team had previously seen this season while a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, did what was asked of him, limiting the Fish to the aforementioned 1 run over 6 innings, punching out 8.
The lone Marlins’ run came courtesy of Sandy’s battery mate, Alex Jackson, who delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd. Jackson would later add a one-out double in the bottom of the 9th, though the team would fail to score.
In keeping with the intrinsic beauties that surround the game of baseball, it was fitting, particularly on the day the prior-noted Jeter was enshrined in Cooperstown, Bryan De La Cruz - whom the Marlins acquired from the Astros - the team who had the first overall pick the year in which the five-time World Champion was drafted in 1992, delivered the walk-off hit to score Jazz Chisholm in the bottom of the 10th for a poetic 2-1 victory. Like Jeter, Chisholm, too, dons the No. 2 on the back of his jersey.
Bryan De La Cruz's walk-off "single" for the Marlins pic.twitter.com/9TaaP2bC45— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 9, 2021
Simply put: “baseball.”