Marlins' Sandy Alcantara takes mound to finish set vs. Jays

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Field Level Media
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Jun 16, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) throws to the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park.
Jun 16, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) throws to the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park.
Image: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to decide what's more surprising.

Is it that the Miami Marlins are 10 games above .500

Or is it that the Marlins have the third-best record in the National League despite getting underwhelming production from right-hander Sandy Alcantara, the NL's reigning Cy Young Award winner

Alcantara, who will start Wednesday afternoon in the series finale against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, is 2-5 with a 4.97 ERA through 14 starts this season

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In 32 starts last season, Alcantara was masterful, producing a 14-9 record and a 2.28 ERA. He led the league in complete games (six) and innings (228 2/3).

Alcantara has yet to beat Toronto, though. In two career starts against the Blue Jays, he is 0-1 with a 3.21 ERA

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Toronto will counter with right-hander Kevin Gausman (6-3, 3.01 ERA), who has been very successful when facing Miami. In seven appearances, including six starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA.

Further, when pitching in Miami, Gausman is 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in three appearances (two starts).

This year, Gausman has won his past four decisions. In fact, he hasn't lost since May 4. He went 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA in six April starts. Gausman then slumped in five May starts, going 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA.

However, he has come roaring back in four June starts, going 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA.

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The Wednesday game will decide the series after Miami won 11-0 on Monday and Toronto responded with a 2-0 victory on Tuesday.

"We chased the fastball at the top of the zone a couple too many times," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said after his team's loss

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Still, the Marlins, who had their five-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday, are 17-6 the American League foes this season

Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory that showed the Blue Jays' depth. Pinch hitters Santiago Espinal (double, run) and Ernie Clement (RBI single) combined to snap a scoreless tie in the eighth inning

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In addition, four Blue Jays relievers came up big. Ex-Marlin Yimi Garcia earned the win; Tim Mayza induced the game's biggest double play, ending an eighth-inning threat; and Jordan Romano picked up his 21st save of the year

Then there is Daulton Varsho, who in the ninth inning took over in center field after three-time Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier was removed for pinch hitter Clement. Varsho made two stellar running catches to end the game.

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"Guys were ready," Toronto manager John Schneider said. "It's a credit to them understanding their spots."

Meanwhile, the big story for the Marlins continues to be Luis Arraez, who leads the majors with a .398 batting average as he bids for his second straight batting title. He also leads all National League second basemen in All-Star voting

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In a comical twist to Arraez's red-hot first half of the season, it turns out that the Miami star -- after every single -- playfully strikes first base coach Jon Jay with his hand to the chest.

"I'm concerned about Jon," Schumaker joked. "He's taking a beating. But Luis has been incredible. From Day 1, he's been locked in and focused with professional at-bats."

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--Field Level Media