A Tip of the Recap — 6/23 (Cubs 2, Marlins 4)
Cubs record: 47-24, 1st NL Central, (9 games up)
W: Kyle Barraclough
L: Pedro Strop
S: David Phelps (3)
MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
The Cubs were looking to start a fish fry as they opened a series in Miami against the Marlins, but they ultimately ended up extending their losing streak to four.
It started out as an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel as only two baserunners, both walks by Miami, reached through the first three innings, but the game broke open a bit in the 4th.
The Cubs got their run when Jason Heyward singled to center and advanced to third when Marcell Ozuna just totally lost focus and let the ball get by him. Kris Bryant plated him with a sac fly, and it looked like the Cubs were going to get more as Contreras singled and Baez doubled with only one out. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize.
In the bottom of the inning, David Ross gave us a free ticket to the gun show when he nailed Christian Yelich trying to steal third. It was a significant out as Stanton, who has been heating up as of late, launched a homer to right field off of Lester moments later. I’m not one to question trying to steal third with arguably the best home run hitter in the league at the plate, but…oh wait, yes I am. Thank you, Yelich.
In the bottom of the 6th, the Cubs lost the lead when Ozuna made up for his blunder earlier in the game smacking a dinger of his own.
The Cubs bats were shut down until the top of the 8th when Ross tied up the game with his sixth home run of the year off of Wei-Yin Chen, ending the pitcher’s night and making it a no-contest for the starters. After Ben Zobrist walked, the Marlins gave Bryant an intentional free pass, but Willson Contreras couldn’t take advantage of the scoring opportunity and the game stayed tied at two.
Pedro Strop relieved Lester in the bottom of the 8th, but he couldn’t hold the tie as he gave up a walk to Yelich, who advanced on a wild pitch and then scored on a Stanton single. J.T. Realmuto then doubled, plating Stanton and making it 4-2 Marlins.
The Cubs showed life in the 9th as Russell singled, Almora dropped one in shallow center, and fill-in closer David Phelps balked (J.D. dubbed it “a ticky-tack call”) to advance the runners to second and third with only one out. Ross promptly walked to load the bags and the Cubs were looking good, but Chris Coghlan struck out swinging and Zobrist flew out on the first pitch to end the game.
Lester pitched a good game and Javy Baez made an insane play at third. Big Jon was able to go seven innings and limit the damage to two runs, which most nights is all the Cubs need. The two homers cost him, but he had a solid night, striking out seven and leaving the Cubs in great position to win.
Baez’s play came as he made a sliding effort at a grounder off the bat of Realmuto, but the ball bounced high into the air off of his glove. He snagged it bare-handed and chucked it to first and appeared to get the runner, but it was overturned on replay. As Len Kasper said, it was one of the best, if not the best, defensive plays I’ve seen…if only the runner had been safe. Alas.
The Marlins were testing Lester and Ross all night by stealing. Ross was able to gun down Yelich, but Realmuto and Rojas were safe. It looked like a strategy the Fish were happy to try and exploit, and for the most part, they were able to take advantage. It didn’t lead to any runs, but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Strop struck out Martin Prado to start the bottom of the 8th, but his walk to Yelich and the wild pitch were brutal and ended up being the difference. It was just a really bad night for Pedro.
The Cubs’ fishing trip continues as they bait their hook with Kyle Hendricks tomorrow against Tom Koehler at 6:10 CST. The Professor looks to extend his streak to seven games of giving up three or fewer runs (with five of those two or fewer) as he hopes to get the Cubs out of a four-game losing streak and back to their winnings ways.