Cubs record: 48-26 (1st in NL Central)
W: Jose Fernandez (10-3, 2.28)
L: Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58)
MVP: Jose Fernandez
After trading zeros in the first inning, the Marlins got on the board first in the bottom of the 2nd. Former Cub farmhand and current Cub killer Justin Bour took a one-out walk and was immediately knocked in by a Derek Dietrich double to give Miami an early 1-0 lead.
The Cubs responded in the top of the 3rd, however. After Chris Coghlan struck out to start the inning, Jason Hammel reached on a single, which was then followed by a Ben Zobrist walk. Jason Heyward lined a single into left field to load the bases and give Chicago its best scoring opportunity of the game.
Kris Bryant hit a deep fly to center, allowing Hammel to tag and score from third to tie things up, 1-1. Anthony Rizzo could not extend the inning, however, and struck out with men on the corners to end the inning and the scoring threat.
The two teams would continue to trade zeros until the bottom of the 6th, when Giancarlo Stanton hit a double to start the inning and advanced to third on a Bour fly out. After a hit-by-pitch that put runners at the corners, Hammel and the Cubs appeared to escape the jam when Adeiny Hechavarria hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the play was reviewed and replay showed that Hechavarria just beat the throw, allowing the go-ahead run to cross the plate.
The Marlins added an unearned run in the 7th and then scored three more runs against the Cubs’ beleaguered bullpen in the 8th to completely break the game open.
By the time the final out was recorded, the Cubs had dropped the game, 6-1, for their third loss of the series and sixth in the past seven games.
It’s probably for the best that Jose Fernandez is in the NL East because that man has some filthy stuff. He has a fastball that reaches the upper 90’s, a sweeping curve that darts out of the zone and an excellent change up that he can use as a legitimate strikeout pitch.
All of those pitches were on display against the Cubs on Sunday, as the 23-year-old dominated the Chicago lineup. Outside of the aforementioned top of the 3rd, the Cubs never really put up much of a threat against Fernandez, who allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out 13 over seven strong innings.
While not nearly as effective, Hammel pitched well in his own right for the Cubs. The verteran right-hander went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three. While the final line looks solid, he did have his struggles, as the Marlins had a runner at third with less than two outs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings. Hammel was able to limit the damage to just a single run over those three frames, but you can only get away with that so often before it comes back to bite you.
The Cubs offense had not been very pretty over the past week and that trend continued on Sunday. While there are several factors to explain this away (injuries, rookies in the lineup, injuries, facing a great pitcher, injuries…), the overall production hasn’t been there.
Hopefully, Chicago will start to get healthy (did I mention that the Cubs have had some injuries) and the offense will be able to get back on track in the comings days and weeks.
Bryant’s throwing error and subsequent unearned run in the bottom of the 7th upped the Cubs’ total to five errors and six unearned runs in the four-game series. For a team that is struggling to score at times with a patchwork lineup, errors and unearned runs are the last thing you want to be giving away.
The Cubs will look to get back on track Monday night, as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Reds (29-47) in the first game of a three-game series. Chicago will send Jake Arrieta (11-2, 1.74) to the mound, while Cincinnati will counter with right-hander and former Cub Dan Straily (4-4, 3.83). First pitch is slated for 6:10 p.m. CST.