The last time the Marlins and Cubs faced off in the playoffs, it was the memorable 2003 NLCS won by Miami – the name Steve Bartman became infamous in that series when the Cubs fan interfered with a foul ball. The Marlins are back at Wrigley Field on Wednesday to open their best-of-3 Wild-Card series vs. the Cubbies.
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Why Bet on Miami? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
While the Marlins have never won a division title, they do have two of something far more important — World Series trophies. They won titles in 1997 and 2003 as a wild card team. In 2020, they’ll once again be trying to win it all without a division title in tow. The Marlins enter the 2020 postseason with a 6-0 record in playoff series.
Miami is probably the most surprising playoff team as it was supposed to be one of the worst in MLB this year. And it was ravaged for a few weeks by COVID-19. The Fish went 57-105 in 2019, became the first team in NL history to make the playoffs the year immediately following a 100-loss season.
Marlins president Michael Hill said Monday that Starling Marte should be ready for the playoffs. Marte suffered a left ear contusion when he got in the batting helmet by a pitch in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Yankees, but he has cleared MLB’s concussion protocol and is likely to be the Marlins’ starting center fielder in Wednesday’s game. The 31-year-old batted .281/.340/.430 with six home runs and 10 stolen bases in 61 games this summer between Arizona and Miami. Marte played in 61 regular-season games this year because he split time with two teams. No other player in the Majors appeared in more than 59 games this season.
The Marlins have been able to come out victorious when they have the lead late in games, going 27-0 in contests in which they are up on their opponents at the end of the sixth inning.
It’s Sandy Alcantara (3-2) on the mound Wednesday. Alcantara was excellent in a no-decision against the Yankees last Friday, allowing three runs (two earned) over 7 1/3 innings. Alcantara gave up a two-run double to Aaron Hicks in the third inning, but carried a lead into the eighth inning, when he gave up a leadoff single to Gary Sanchez and struck out Clint Frazier swinging before being pulled. Yimi Garcia would give up a game-tying single to Aaron Judge to close the book on Alcantara’s night.
While Alcantara didn’t get the win, it was still an impressive outing for him, as he struck out nine batters while walking two. The 25-year-old finished with a 3.00 ERA and 39/15 K/BB ratio in 42 innings over seven starts. Like many of the pitchers on the Marlins’ roster, this will be Alcantara’s first career postseason appearance. He didn’t face the Cubs in 2020.
Why Bet on Chicago? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
For the first time in franchise history, the Cubs have qualified for the postseason in five out of six years. And after going 108 years without winning a World Series, they have the opportunity to win their second title in just the last five years.
The Cubs won the NL Central despite having a team batting average that’s about 15 points lower than any other postseason team in history (besides this year’s Reds). It’s not the bottom of the order; it’s the Cubs’ stars, with Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber at or below .200. The Cubs’ top five spots in the order: .211, .217, .204, .190, .211. The Cubs have scored three or fewer runs in 11 of their last 12 losses dating to Sept. 3.
David Ross is just the seventh person to lead the team to a division crown in his first season as manager of the Cubs. Ross joins: Albert Spalding (1876), Charlie Grimm (took over in middle of 1932), Gabby Hartnett (took over in middle of 1938), Jim Frey (1984), Dusty Baker (2003) and Lou Piniella (2007).
Bryant did homer for the second consecutive game as the Cubs topped the White Sox in Sunday’s regular season finale. Bryant smashed a grand slam in his return to the Cubs lineup on Saturday, then clobbered a solo shot off of Reynaldo Lopez to get the Cubs on the board Sunday. Still he had just four homers and only 11 RBI in 34 games overall.
It’s Kyle Hendricks on the mound Wednesday. Hendricks lost last Wednesday despite allowing just two runs over 7 2/3 innings against the Pirates. Hendricks gave up back-to-back homers to Adam Frazier and Ke’Bryan Hayes to open the bottom of the first. Hendricks ended the regular season 6-5 with a 2.88 ERA. He leads the N.L. with an 8.00 strikeout (64) to walk (8) ratio. Hendricks spun 81.1 innings this season, one-third inning shy of the league leader, Colorado’s German Marquez (81.2 IP).
Cubs 5, Marlins 3
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