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Marlins-Cubs Recap: Earning Confidence Back In Winning Series

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The Miami Marlins entered the 2021 MLB season with great expectations aimed at the club. Of course, this was a consequence of their sensational performance last year. In 2020, Miami reached the postseason for the first time in 17 years, finishing second in the NL East, however, this was during a pandemic-shortened 60-game campaign, which would turn out to be deceiving as far as the capabilities of the Marlins go.

The club is currently occupying fifth place within the division, eight games behind the top and having lost five of their last ten games. Yet, last week was quite positive for the Don Mattingly-led ballclub. By virtue of the pair of victories over the Chicago Cubs, the Marlins won just the second of their last seven series.

Here is the best of Miami’s victorious weekend in this Marlins Cubs recap:

2021 Miami Marlins: Marlins-Cubs Recap

The Recap

Game One

The Cubs headed into this home stint one game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers atop the NL Central division and with one of their aces on the mound in the Friday matchup. Zach Davies was set to make his fifteenth start of the campaign which has seen his post an ERA of 4.66 while allowing 0.7 HR/9. On the contrary, he has conceded more than four bases on balls on average per nine innings.

For Miami, after having been dropped to the last place in the division, Cody Poteet received his sixth 2021 start. Poteet settled as a back-end member of the rotation amid injuries to crucial assets such as Elieser HernandezDaniel Castano, and Nick Neidert. Although the 2015 Marlins draftee only pitched 3.2 innings in this outing, it was enough to give the Marlins breathing room for the offensive outburst that would follow.

Joc Pederson opened the score for Chicago with a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning. However, Miami was quick to respond, driving in five runs in the third. Starling Marte drew a bases-loaded walk whereas Adam Duvall gave Miami a four-run lead via the fifth grand slam of his MLB career. Pederson would restore some hope for the Cubbies with another one-run shot in the bottom of that inning but that state would eventually be short-lived.

In the sixth, Jon Berti‘s three-run big fly doubled the margin in favor of the Marlins to six runs, which spelled the end of the night for Davies, who left after six innings on the mound on Friday. The former Brewer and Padre conceded eight runs, seven hits, three walks, and two strikeouts. In the meantime, Duvall’s second home run of the day, a two-run big hit against Chicago relief pitcher Dan Winkler, formed the final score of 10-2.

After Poteet exited in the fourth, John Curtiss earned the win with a clean slate of four consecutive outs. Meanwhile, Zach Pop hurled unproblematic two innings and a third to close out Miami’s first win in five games.

At the plate, Jorge Alfaro and Duvall had three hits each while Pederson was the only Cub with more than one hit, hitting two of Chicago’s four in total.

Win – John Curtiss (3-1)

Loss – Zach Davies (4-4)

Game Two

With Pablo Lopez and Jake Arrieta set to take center stage in the Saturday clash, this one was anticipated to be a solid pitchers’ battle. However, it got real ugly real early.

Miami hit Arrieta as early as the opening frame, driving in three runs. Adam Duvall’s two-run shot was one of two for him on the day – and four in just two days at Wrigley Field. His second homer, in the third with nobody out, would be the nail in the coffin for Arrieta, who departed after three innings and with his squad down 6-0. Overall, the long-tenured Cubs starter surrendered four earned runs and two home runs while striking out only five batters.

Later in the game, Jesus Sanchez would register two RBI on two separate occasions. Firstly, the former high-profile prospect’s single in the fifth amounted to Duvall coming around to score. Then, in the seventh, his solo home run made it 9-0. It was the first homer of Sanchez’s young major-league career.

Finally, Lewin Diaz hit his second big fly this year in the top of the 8th before Jason Heyward got one back in the following batting sequence. The Marlins conquered Wrigley with an 11-1 win to guarantee themselves the series win, just for the second time since April.

It wasn’t just Sanchez and Duvall who were catching the attention on Saturday afternoon. Pablo Lopez had a magnificent outing, allowing merely a hit in a seven-inning scoreless affair. Furthermore, the third-year rotation member also struck out seven while giving up no walks. Lopez lowered his ERA to 2.86, allowing less than one home run and 2.5 walks per nine.

Win – Pablo Lopez (3-4)

Loss – Jake Arrieta (5-8)

Game Three

Entering Sunday, June 20th, Miami’s series win didn’t feel like a blessing. The Marlins were still last in the NL East and eight games behind the division leader, the New York Mets. However, both them and the Cubs still had much work to do. After the Cubs’ losses at home to Miami, Milwaukee had caught up on Chicago and was tied for first place after the conclusion of the Saturday games across Major League Baseball.

Alec Mills hasn’t had the steadiest of campaigns. Yet, he was the first Cubbies starter this year to successfully deal with the Miami Marlins. Mills pitched five innings on the mound, allowing just six hits accompanied by three strikeouts.

Likewise, Mills’s scoreless start was replicated by the relievers who took his spot on the mound. The Cubs got retribution for the losses on Friday and Saturday, winning 2-0 on Sunday. A Heyward run on a passed ball error by Alfaro in the third and a Joc Pederson single in the fifth made the difference.

Miami’s starting pitcher was Zach Thompson, who made the third start of his professional MLB-level tenure. The Texas-Arlington product allowed just one run over four innings, though his batting lineup was unable to support him adequately. Moreover, reliever Ross Detwiler conceded the run-driving Pederson hit in the fifth after getting just one Cubs batter out. The remainder of the Miami bullpen – Anthony BenderRichard Bleier, and Yimi Garcia, was dominant to precision, through to little significance.

Despite the victory, the Cubs registered just four hits offensively, now having hit four or fewer in each game versus Miami. On the other end, the Marlins had six and Jesus Aguilar was the lone hitter within both clubs with more than one hit on the afternoon.

Win – Alec Mills (3-1)

Loss – Zach Thompson (1-2)

Save – Craig Kimbrel (20)

The Highlights

The Numbers

  • Adam Duvall – 13 PA, .417 BA, .462 OBP, 10 RBI, 4 HR: In sharp contrast with everything he has showcased thus far in 2021, Duvall was not only the Marlins’ best batter against the Cubs but had a tremendous showing over the three games at Wrigley Field. To put these impressive figures in perspective – Adam Duvall was the only Marlin to hit more than one home run, as well as the only player with more than five runs batted in and one of four batters (>10 PA) with an on-base percentage north of .320. With injuries causing the absence of Brian Anderson and Corey Dickerson, it would be enormous for Duvall to provide a spark. However, this is unlikely to last long – Duvall has been Miami’s worst starter at the plate by far this season. He holds the lowest OPS and OBP amongst starters on the field, with the latter being the only number under .300 (disregarding Sandy Leon while he was filling in for Alfaro, who will soon have more plate appearances).
  • Pablo Lopez – 1 GS, 1 W, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA: Pablo has once again stood out amidst the woeful development that Miami’s rotation has gone through. Thus, he has cemented his status as the ace of the staff, prevailing over the likes of Sandy Alcantara and others. So far, Lopez has turned in the best ERA within the Marlins’ rotation, as well as the second-most strikeouts and second-fewest walks per nine innings, and is tied with Alcantara for the third-fewest HR/9 surrendered.
  • Jesus Aguilar – 13 PA, .182 BA, .308 OBP, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K; Miguel Rojas – 14 PA, .071 BA, .071 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 K: Despite the Marlins’ offensive outburst this past weekend, Aguilar and Rojas were very quiet, even alarmingly so. The good news? Over the whole season, they have performed considerably well. Both players have put on on-base figures over the league average, as well as OPS values in the .800 range.
  • Miami Marlins Batting Lineup – 21 Runs Scored, 4th in MLB, 3rd in NL: The Marlins were unexpectedly productive at the plate, ranking within the top four in runs over the weekend. This matters very little, as does their 16th-best .250 average. In fact, the Marlins are fairly likely to return to their previous batting struggles within a short time span. Miami has scored the seventh-fewest runs through their first 71 games of the campaign, with many teams, like the Mets, the Nationals, and the Yankees, that had to postpone matchups due to COVID-19 problems, below them only for the time being. Amongst clubs with at least 1000 PA, the Marlins are fourth from down going up.

The Notes

  • It is not yet known whether the Marlins will elect to name Zach Thompson their fifth-choice option for a longer period of time. The first-year pitcher has taken over such a role during the current turn of Miami’s rotation, which still has Alcantara and Trevor Rogers to go in the opening pair of clashes with Toronto, starting on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Jordan Holloway, Daniel Castano, and Nick Neidert are all on the 10-day Injured List, while Elieser Hernandez was recently moved to the 60-day IL, effectively ending the chances of a return any time soon. Sixto Sanchez has no timetable for his return, patiently awaiting his first start since the NL Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves.
  • The Miami Marlins might be in the midst of a disappointing campaign but their bullpen might classify as the light in the darkness. Miami’s relief group currently has an ERA of 3.74, the ninth-best in all of MLB and the fifth-best in the National League. It seems like the offseason addition of the likes of Dylan Floro, John Curtiss, Adam Cimber, and Anthony Bass, have paid dividends, as predicted by many. For comparison, the Marlins’ bullpen was the fifth-worst last year, with a collective Earned Run Average of 5.50.

Follow me on Twitter at @TeodorTsenov for more of my content. Don’t forget to check out our baseball podcast, Cheap Seat Chatter! We’ll see ya there!

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Teodor Tsenov is the Jets and Marlins writer for Overtime Heroics, as well as an NFL and MLB writer for Franchise Sports UK. From Bulgaria.