BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
When you make a decision to cover one game per series, What Are The Odds of covering the same pitcher three times in a row?
During my last three visits to loanDepot Park, Jesus Luzardo was on the hill for Miami.
He reeled in three solid performances winning one and had two no-decisions.
The Marlins did win all of these games.
On August 29, 2021 against the Cincinnati Reds, Luzardo went six innings, gave up one hit, struck out eight and fanned Joey Votto twice. The Marlins won the game 2-1.
The Philadelphia Phillies came to town on September 3, 2021 and I was shocked that Luzardo made it through the first three innings. Through one inning, Luzardo 26 pitches but would ultimately settle down and lasted 5.2 innings. He did manage to retire Bryce Harper three times.
Luzardo was pulled in the sixth inning for Steven Okert, who retired one hitter, then the Marlins exploded for seven runs to cruise to a 10-3 triumph. Luzardo got a no-decision.
September 9, 2021 produced another no-decision for Luzardo as he worked 5.2 innings and tied a career high with eight strikeouts. He threw 97 pitches, 58 for strikes.
The Marlins would use late game heroics to pull out a 3-2 win.
I returned to loanDepotPark on Sunday, September 19 and the Marlins were looking to avoid a three-game sweep to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But there would be no Luzardo sighting as Miami’s hurler was Sandy Alcantara, who entered the game with a 9-13 record and a 3.10 ERA.
I missed Luzardo, by a day as he faces the Washington Nationals on Monday Night in the Nations Capital.
Would Alcantara, who has been the Marlins horse all-season long be able to solve the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Sandy has pitched 188.2 IP, in 30 games. He has 185 strikeouts and just 46 walks to go along with a complete game.
He struck out 14 NY Mets on Thursday, September 8, throwing nine innings only to receive a no-decision in a 2-1 Miami extra innings victory.
The Marlins would get another solid outing from Alcantara as he went six, plus innings, giving up six hits, striking out four and walked one. He gave up two runs and one was earned.
Alcantara threw 102 pitches, 71 for strikes and had 16 ground balls.
The turned to Anthony Bender to get Alcantara out of a seventh inning jam as the inning ended with a double play.
Alcantara left with a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning.
The Marlins scored two runs in the fourth inning when Joe Panik doubled to center field scoring Lewin Diaz and Jesus Sanchez.
The Fish added another run in the fifth inning as Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to left fielder Anthony Alford, allowing Jazz Chisholm to score.
Unfortunately, for Miami and Alcantara, who was looking for his 10th win of the season as the ninth inning was a disaster.
Miami turned to Dylan Floro to close and he walked Cole Tucker.
Hoy Park hit one out of the park with a two-run shot to right-field that scored Tucker and Pittsburgh with one swing of the bat, took a 4-3 lead. After the homer, Floro would strike out Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, each swinging.
The Marlins tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning 4-4.
Unfortunately, for Miami, Pittsburgh retook the lead in the 10th inning to take a 5-4 lead.
But once again, as I have seen many times, the Marlins had a comeback left and won it in walk-off fashion.
Jesus Sanchez was placed on second base and that set the stage for Lewin Diaz to hit his first career walk-off homer of his career and he did to right field giving the Marlins a 6-5 win.
The Marlins avoided the three-game sweep by the Pirates but more importantly, won their 63rd game of the season, and as a result, averted losing 100 games this season.
Steve Okert got the win and he improved to 2-1 while Chad Kuhl dropped to 5-7.
The game took 3:36 to complete and the paid attendance was 9,870 and there were 227 dogs in the ballpark.
While there was no Luzardo this afternoon, there was yet another do decision and for the second straight game, I saw another Marlins win decided by one-run in extra innings.
Although it’s too bad that Alcantara didn’t get the win, at least he didn’t get the loss.
As I entered the building, I had to dig deep into my memory bank about the last time I saw a Miami team face a Pittsburgh squad.
On January 6, 1985, The Miami Dolphins defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-28 at the Orange Bowl, on this very sight.
I was a year from graduating from college, but What Are The Odds applies to so many different facets of this story beginning with Luzardo, on to Alcantara seeing three straight no-decisions and culminating with the Dolphins defeating the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.
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