Marlins' Alvarez shuts down Rays, extends scoreless streak to 21 innings
JUN 03, 2014 11:15p ET
''I told (pitching coach Chuck Hernandez) I was ready for the ninth inning and thankfully I attacked the zone and the batters swung early,'' Alvarez said in Spanish.
Said manager Mike Redmond: ''He was dominating that game and it was his to lose.''
A week ago, Alvarez had to tell Hernandez and Redmond he couldn't pitch after five shutout innings in Washington because of right elbow tightness.
In his return to the rotation, Alvarez (3-3, 2.62 ERA) recorded his major-league-tying third complete game of the season on just 88 pitches, besting his franchise record set on April 19.
Alvarez has tossed at least one complete-game shutout in each month and has not given up a run in a career-high 21 consecutive innings, dating back to a pair of mid-May road starts when he surrendered nine runs that rose his ERA to 3.62.
The 24-year-old also became the first pitcher to record three complete shutouts in interleague play. His first, of course, was a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers to close the 2013 season. He tossed nine two-hit frames April 19 against the Seattle Mariners.
''My pitches were working today,'' said Alvarez, who compiled five strikeouts and no walks. ''I was keeping my pitches down and the batters were swinging early and I was getting early outs so I was able to get my work done.''
On three occasions, he escaped jams with double plays. Of his eight hits allowed, just Kevin Kiermaier's two-out triple in the third went for extra bases.
In the fifth, Yunel Escobar singled to left with one out. After the ball was thrown back to Alvarez, Escobar bolted for second. Alvarez made a quick move and Ed Lucas' tag got him. Upon further review, the call stood. Jose Molina singled and would've drive in that run.
''(Henderson) was great,'' Redmond said. ''He really took that whole game over not only hitting wise (but) the way he fielded his position, got a hit. That was fun to watch. He did a great job and gave us exactly what we needed. Pounded the strike zone. We could tell early on he had great stuff, great velocity, great control. I thought (catcher Jeff Mathis) did a great job with him keeping him the strike zone attacking the zone.
''He's got a good fastball. It moves, and he gets a lot of groundballs. I think when he's pounding the strike zone with his fastball he's able to make guys miss. That's the key. In the little bit of trouble he got into he was able to get out of it, field his position or get a perfectly timed double play. He gets a lot of ground balls and doesn't give up a ton of hard contact. That was huge for him.''
Alvarez also showcased his athleticism to back his pitching with solid defense and a timely hit. He turned two of those double plays to kill Tampa Bay rallies in both the seventh and eighth innings.
After a leadoff infield single in the eighth, Alvarez fielded Molina's sacrifice bunt attempt and threw to second where shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria quickly turned it over to first.
''He's a really good athlete,'' Mathis said. ''When he gets his feet set he's going to make a pretty good throw the majority of the time, and him just bouncing around and turning a couple double plays is a reason why he can go the distance.''
Miami's lone run wouldn't have crossed home plate had Alvarez not helped his own cause in the fifth.
Garrett Jones started the frame with a single. Following Marcell Ozuna's strikeout, Hechavarria singled to put runners at first and second. Mathis struck out, but Alvarez sharply singled up the middle to load the bases. It set up Christian Yelich's game-winning RBI walk.
''It just went well overall today, from offense, my hit, to defense,'' Alvarez said. ''With the double plays grounded back at me, I just got into direct position and everything paid off turning double plays and making plays defensively.''