Sandy Alcantara throws another complete game but Miami Marlins shut out by Brewers

Morry Gash/AP

For the MLB-leading sixth time this season, Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara threw a complete game as he continues to beef up his Cy Young Award case.

But for the first time in those half-dozen outings, he was on the losing end of the decision as the Marlins were shut out by the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 on Friday at American Family Field.

Alcantara threw eight dominant innings, giving up just one run on five hits while not issuing a walk and striking out eight. The lone run he gave up came in the sixth inning, when Garrett Mitchell led off the inning with a single, stole second, reached third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Rowdy Tellez sacrifice fly.

And he did this despite basically only throwing fastballs and changeups. Of his 100 pitches on Friday, only six were sliders. The rest: 43 changeups, 32 four-seam fastballs and 19 sinkers.

“My slider today in the bullpen was not too good,” Alcantara said. “Since the game started going on I think I started throwing, but I think just used my four-seam, two-seam and changeup today and I got great success.”

The problem for the Marlins overall? Their offense was non-existent. Miami (65-92) had just four hits, all singles, in eight innings against 2021 Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. Two of those hits were erased by double plays. Devin Williams pitched a scoreless ninth for Milwaukee (84-73), working around a Lewin Diaz leadoff single and walks to Jon Berti and Avisail Garcia to hand the Marlins their 14th shutout loss and 39th one-run defeat of the season.

“Burnes just doesn’t give in,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He doesn’t throw anything on the plate, everything is on the edge with him. Guys don’t really get anything to hit or you have to really work to get something to hit. He just doesn’t give in. He’s really good. We got something going in the ninth and had a couple of chances, we just weren’t able to get that hit.”

Sandy Alcantara’s overall season

Alcantara on the season has a 2.28 ERA over an MLB-leading 228 2/3 innings — the fifth-most in a season in Marlins history and 8 2/3 innings shy of Kevin Brown’s franchise record of 237 1/3 set in 1997 — and 207 strikeouts.

He is the first pitcher in Marlins franchise history to have multiple seasons with 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts and the first in MLB to do so in consecutive seasons since Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom in 2018 and 2019.

He is the first pitcher in MLB to throw at least six complete games in a season since Chris Sale in 2016. He is also the first pitcher to throw at least 228 2/3 innings in a season since David Price threw 230 innings in that 2016 season. Only three pitchers in Marlins franchise history have more than six complete games in a season: Livan Hernandez (franchise-record nine in 1998), A.J. Burnett (seven in 2002) and Dontrelle Willis (seven in 2005).

“What stood out [this season] really is just him getting better,” Mattingly said. “Last year, we thought he was pretty good but he kept getting better. His confidence grows, he seems more on the attack. The guy doesn’t really back off anybody anymore. You’ve seen in the past, he was careful with certain guys now he’s just on the attack all the time. It’s hard to put it on one thing. He just keeps getting better. The bar’s pretty high and he keeps setting it higher.”

And Alcantara has a supporter for his Cy Young Award case in Burnes, the reigning award winner.

“Yeah, he’d be the Cy Young for me this year,” Burnes said. “What he’s done as far as going deep into games, doing it start in and start out, he doesn’t have many blow-up outings. He goes out there and gives them seven, eight or nine innings, and gives them a chance to win. Obviously, they’re not the best baseball team this year, which makes it even tougher to go out there and do what he’s doing, so yeah, he would be my Cy Young this year.”

Will Sandy Alcantara get one more start?

Alcantara is scheduled to pitch the Marlins’ regular-season finale on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves. Mattingly on Saturday said the plan was for Alcantara to make each of his final two starts.

But postgame Friday, the mood changed.

“It’s something we want to talk about,” Mattingly said, “because there’s some concerns with the amount of volume that he’s thrown this year and stuff like that. It’s something we want to talk about.”

Alcantara, unsurprisingly, wants the ball.

“Why not?” Alcantara said. “If they say I’m not going to start the game, I’m going to feel so bad because I want to finish strong, finish all my starts. I want to pitch. Let’s see what they say.”