Sunday’s finale of this weekend’s three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the host Miami Marlins is set to feature a big-time pitching matchup.
Tampa Bay will start left-hander Blake Snell (2-0, 3.04 ERA). Miami will counter with right-hander Sandy Alcantara (1-0, 1.35 ERA).
The Rays have won the first two games of this series, 2-0 and 4-0. Rays pitchers have a 36-inning scoreless streak at Marlins Park. The Rays are the first team to shut out the same opponent four straight times on the road since the 1981-82 Baltimore Orioles tortured the Toronto Blue Jays in that fashion.
Conversely, the Marlins have not scored on anyone since Wednesday, a span of 19 innings.
Miami is going to get another tough pitcher on Sunday. Snell, 27, was named the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2018, leading the circuit in wins (21-5) and ERA (1.89) in 31 impressive starts.
Last year, in 23 starts, Snell slumped to 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA. But he is back on track in six starts this season. In fact, in his past four starts, Snell is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.
Sunday will mark only the second time Snell has faced the Marlins, and he has no record with a 3.60 ERA against Miami.
Snell will be working on five days of rest, which could be bad news for Miami. For his career, Snell is a solid 16-13 with a 3.69 ERA on four days of rest. But with the extra day, Snell is 19-9 with a 2.75 ERA.
Alcantara, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched since July 24, which was Miami’s Opening Day.
“It was amazing to be out there,” Alcantara said after beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Opening Day.
After that, he was one of 18 Marlins players who tested positive for Covid-19, and Sunday will mark his return to the mound.
With a fastball that has touched 100 mph, Alcantara made the All-Star Game last year even though he led the league in losses (6-14). There were a couple of extenuating circumstances, however.
First of all, his ERA was respectable at 3.88. Secondly, every team has to have at least one All-Star, and he was the choice on a Miami team that lost 105 games.
For his career, Alcantara is 9-17 with a 3.76 ERA. He has never faced the Rays.
The Rays, who lead the American League East and are on a 17-3 run, continue to have injury problems. On Saturday, they put catcher Mike Zunino (oblique) and pitcher Ryan Yarbrough on the 10-day injured list. In addition, reliever Chaz Roe (elbow) was shut down for the season.
Even so, the Rays are flourishing with players such as third baseman Yandy Diaz, who is batting .303 and has the go-ahead RBI in the first two games in this series, both times in late-inning situations (eighth and sixth frames, respectively).
Rays second baseman Joey Wendle has also been productive against the Marlins, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of doubles on Saturday.
“I’m just trying to stay relaxed,” Wendle said after Saturday’s game. “I had been a little swing-happy the past couple of games. I just tried to slow things down and see the ball better and deeper.”
For the Marlins, it’s been a struggle on offense. Four of their starters on Saturday ended the night with a batting average below .200.
–Field Level Media