Last week, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner got through only five-plus innings before being chased by the Dodgers’ dominant offense.
On Sunday, this year’s Cy Young front-runner couldn’t even complete four.
In his worst start of an otherwise stellar season, Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara was battered, beaten and eventually buried by the Dodgers in a 10-3 win, which completed a three-game weekend sweep in front of 41,125 at Dodger Stadium.
In a season-short 3⅔ innings, Alcantara was tagged with a season-high in runs (six) and hits (10).
He lost possession of the National League’s ERA lead, falling behind the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin after his mark rose from 1.92 to 2.19.
And he looked nothing like the quick-working, innings-eating, hard-throwing right-hander who had become baseball’s premier pitcher over the first four months of the season.
“He’s one of the game’s best,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But we came out with a really good plan today.”
The Dodgers entered the series finale well aware of Alcantara’s dazzling campaign.
Before first pitch on Sunday, Roberts also gushed about the Marlins pitcher, whose almost automatic ability to work deep in games (he’d pitched nine innings four times and seven innings in 17 of his 24 starts) had separated him from the pack in the Cy Young race.
“Honestly,” Roberts said, “when you see his name on the [pitching] probables, you dread it.”
However, Roberts also said the Dodgers (84-36) were looking forward to the challenge.
Just like when they faced Milwaukee Brewers ace and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes on Thursday, Alcantara presented the type of elite-level pitching they’ll see in the postseason.
And unlike their performance against Burnes, when they were shut out for five innings before finally scratching across three runs in the sixth, the Dodgers on Sunday got to Alcantara early and often.
In the bottom of the first, they drove up Alcantara’s pitch count while manufacturing a run after Mookie Betts singled, stole second and scored on a Will Smith base hit.
In the bottom of the second, the Dodgers teed off on Alcantara’s fastball, with Joey Gallo driving a two-out triple off the right-field wall before Cody Bellinger blasted a two-run home run over the barrier and into the outfield pavilion.
After a Max Muncy RBI single in the third, the Dodgers knocked out Alcantara in the fourth, when Betts singled home a run and Smith tallied the second of his three RBIs with a ground-rule double.
“He wore down a little bit and left pitches over the plate for us,” Muncy said. “And we hit his mistakes.”
The Marlins’ series-long defensive woes didn’t help Alcantara either.
Betts’ first-inning single came on a hard ground ball that third baseman Jon Berti failed to corral.
Right fielder Brian Anderson also aided a couple Dodgers rallies, failing to snag Gallo’s triple at the wall and letting Smith’s ground-rule double soar over his head. (Anderson also committed a throwing error in the eighth that led to a run).
The Dodgers defense had a far different kind of day, thanks to two highlight-reel plays from Gallo in left.
In the top of the first, Gallo threw out a runner at home plate for the final out of the inning. In the third, he robbed the leadoff hitter potentially of extra bases with a diving catch near the foul line.
The Marlins (52-69) did eventually crack Dodgers starter Ryan Pepiot, when Lewin Díaz hit a two-run homer in the fourth. But those were the only runs the rookie right-hander gave up in a season-best six-inning, seven-strikeout display.
And while the Dodgers’ top-ranked offense piled on late, getting a solo home run from Muncy (his MLB-leading seventh in August) in the bottom of the seventh and three more insurance runs in the eighth, their destruction of Alcantara had already served as the biggest statement of the day.
“A guy like this, you’re gonna see in the postseason,” Roberts said. “It says a lot for how good we can be.”
Brusdar Graterol (shoulder) will be activated from the injured list Monday, according to Roberts. … Kershaw (back) likely won’t need a rehabilitation assignment after all, Roberts said. The left-hander will instead throw an extended bullpen session this week, then a simulated game against teammates.