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WSH 1, MIA 2; Sandy brilliant in Marlins walk-off

Sandy pitched 9 shutout innings, but didn’t get the win. Marlins did, though.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) delivers a pitch in the 1st inning against the Washington Nationals at loanDepot park. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami, FL—Going into Wednesday night, the Marlins had won 5 straight games started by ace Sandy Alcantara. In those 5 starts, Sandy pitched 39 innings and allowed just 18 hits while pitching to a preternatural 0.69 ERA. Opponents slugged .191 against him in those 5 starts. All season long, Alcantara had given up 3 earned runs or more just once. To say he has been spectacular would be a woeful understatement.

He decided to impress us again. Through 3 innings, Alcantara had a shutout going, but that wasn’t the impressive part. Of the 33 pitches he threw in those 3 innings, only 3 were balls. That’s good for a 90.9 strike percentage, the highest for any starting pitcher in the first 3 innings of a game this year.

Sandy continued that trend all game long, pitching a full 9 shutout innings in this one. Final line: 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB. 6 SO. That makes 6 straight starts of at least 7 innings and 100 pitches thrown for Sandy.

The Nationals’ staff was able to keep Miami off the board for most of this one as well. A combination of Josiah Gray, Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Kyle Finnegan shut out Miami through 9 innings.

The Marlins did threaten repeatedly during Gray’s start, only to come up empty with runners in scoring position. Then against Finnegan in the bottom half of the ninth, Jon Berti and Miguel Rojas reached base to begin the inning. Unfortunately, the Marlins couldn’t manufacture a run, which meant free baseball at loanDepot.

At 105 pitches, it was thought Alcantara could become the first Marlin ever to pitch more than 9 full innings in a game. Alas, manager Don Mattingly elected to go with lefty Tanner Scott to pitch the top of the 10th. Postgame, Donnie told reporters that had it been a postseason game, he would have let Sandy pitch the 10th.

Scott promptly gave up a bloop single to allow the placed runner to score, which gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

With Jazz Chisholm placed on 2nd base, Miami had the meat of their order up to try and drive him in in the bottom of the 10th. After a Cooper lineout, pinch hitter Willians Astudillo came through with a flare into right field to score Chisholm, which tied the game.

Chisholm was initially called out on the play—home plate umpire Nestor Ceja said Jazz slid around the plate and never came back to touch it. After further review, the call was overturned due to Keibert Ruiz illegally blocking the plate. The game was tied at 1-1. Also crucial to note, Astudillo reached 2nd on the throw home.

Jesús Aguilar, who has been in the midst of a woeful stretch, delivered in the clutch with a grounder that ricocheted off the 2nd base bag and rolled into center field. The rumbling Astudillo scored to gave the Marlins their second walk-off win of the season.

Miami improved to 24-30 while Washington fell to 21-37. Tanner Scott got the win (smh) while Tanner Rainey endured the loss.

The Marlins have now picked up consecutive victories following their 90-minute, closed-door meeting. The Miami Herald reported earlier on Wednesday that some veteran players weren’t happy with some of the younger players’ behavior and rule-following. After speaking with Miguel Rojas and Garrett Cooper pregame, I was able to confirm that report. Also, another theme of the meeting related to Rojas’s perception of a lack of hustle from some players.

“There are a couple of things and rules that individuals and players need to get better at,” Rojas said to a group of reporters in the Marlins clubhouse, “like running a ball out to first base and being here on time. Just sort of a reminder.”

Cooper added: “Not all people have to like each other on this team—not everyone’s going to be friends 24/7.” He went on to say that while it’s important for teammates to get things off their chests, “There’s things where pointing a finger at someone like ‘who did this, who did that,’ was a lot of nonsense to me.”

It seems like the Marlins have moved on from the kerfuffle, and can focus more of their energy on playing baseball after clearing the air with each other. They have 108 games to go.

They will go for the sweep Thursday night with left-hander Trevor Rogers on the bump. Stephen Strasburg is expected to be activated off the injured list by Washington to make his highly anticipated season debut.