Alcantara smothers Braves with 14 whiffs in Marlins’ 4-1 win
ATLANTA (AP) — Seeing Sandy Alcantara for the second time in a week was of no benefit to the Atlanta Braves’ hitters.
The hard-throwing Miami right-hander was more overpowering than ever.
Alcantara matched his career high with 14 strikeouts, again dominating the Braves and leading the Marlins to a 4-1 victory Saturday.
Alcantara (5-2) allowed only four hits with no walks in eight innings to earn his third consecutive win. He lowered his ERA to 2.00 while permitting no more than one earned run in his fourth straight start.
“His stuff is so good, I don’t even know if familiarity matters,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Alcantara improved to 4-1 in nine career starts against Atlanta. He went the distance Sunday in a 4-3 victory over the Braves at home.
Alcantara said he was determined to “just use all my power” to take advantage of the Braves. He said he “always” feels stronger later in games and retired Atlanta’s final six batters, posting his final four strikeouts in the last two innings.
“Sometimes with Sandy it looks like pitch and catch,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the 6-foot-5 Alcantara’s pitching motion.
Atlanta fell to 4-12 in day games, the worst record in the majors. The Braves began the day hitting only .203 in afternoon games, also the worst mark in the big leagues.
“He’s something else,” Snitker said of Alcantara. “It’s almost impossible when you get him at that time and the 4 o’clock shadows come in.”
Miguel Rojas had three hits, including a homer off Darren O’Day in the sixth. Garrett Cooper’s two-run double off Collin McHugh in the seventh made it 4-1.
Cole Sulser pitched the ninth, yielding Dansby Swanson’s double with two outs before walking Marcell Ozuna. Sulser struck out Austin Riley for his second save.
Braves left-hander Tucker Davidson (1-2) permitted three hits and one run in five innings. He was hurt by four walks, including two in the fourth. Jorge Soler, who led off the inning with a walk, scored on Joey Wendle’s sacrifice fly for the first run of the game.
Michael Harris, Atlanta’s 21-year-old top prospect, was promoted from Double-A Mississippi to start in center field. He singled to left in the sixth for his first hit. Harris advanced to third on a single up the middle by Ronald Acuña Jr. before scoring on Swanson’s grounder to third.
ANOTHER HIT BY PITCH
Acuña, who returned to the lineup after missing three starts with a strained right quadriceps, was hit by a pitch from Alcantara in the third. The 99 mph sinker glanced off Acuña’s shoulder and hit his left hand.
It marked the 31st time in Acuña’s career he was hit by a pitch, including seven by Marlins pitchers. No other team has hit Acuña with more than three pitches.
After being plunked, Acuña walked slowly toward the first base side of the mound. Alcantara gave him a pat on his backside and Acuña continued to first base.
“I don’t hit him on purpose,” Alcantara said, adding his interaction with Acuña was “something between him and me.”
Acuña remained in the game but was picked off first base on a quick throw from Alcantara.
Alcantara took advantage of Acuña appearing to be distracted while trying to adjust a sleeve over his left hand.
“I got that on my mind — pickoff quick,” Alcantara said.
Marlins second baseman Willians Astudillo, whose nickname La Tortuga — or The Turtle — reflects his lack of speed, hit a one-out single in the fifth for Miami’s first hit.
Astudillo (5-foot-9, 225 pounds) then stole second base. It was his first attempted steal in five seasons in the majors with Minnesota and Miami.
Marlins 2B Jazz Chisholm Jr. (sore left hamstring) was held out for the fourth straight game. Mattingly said Chisholm was available off the bench, though he wasn’t used. ... RF Brian Anderson was removed from Miami’s original lineup due to lower back spasms.
Marlins RHP Elieser Hernández (2-4, 5.59 ERA), who allowed one run over five innings in a 4-3 home loss to the Braves on May 21, faces LHP Max Fried (4-2, 3.27) in Sunday’s series finale.
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