The Miami Marlins are hoping to send the reeling Chicago Cubs to their 10th straight loss on Saturday night.
Miami, which beat the Cubs 14-10 in Friday’s opener of this three-game series, is thrilled to have manager Don Mattingly back from the COVID-19 list. The Marlins were 4-8 without Mattingly, and they are now 1-0 since his return.
“It feels good to be back,” Mattingly said. “It’s a little different watching games on TV. I saw a lot of different things. I saw facial expressions, which gave me more insight to how a guy is feeling.”
The Marlins needed 4 hours, 14 minutes to secure Friday’s win, making it the longest nine-inning game in franchise history.
Meanwhile, Chicago on Saturday will start veteran right-hander Zach Davies (6-9, 5.26 ERA). Davies is 3-3 with a 6.75 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins. In Miami, however, Davies has been much better, posting a 2-0 record with a 3.31 ERA in three starts.
The Cubs, who dumped hitting stars Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant just before the trade deadline, are 11-13 when Davies starts this year. That’s not bad considering Chicago’s current slump.
Then again, the Cubs are 0-3 in Davies’ three most recent starts, and he has allowed 18 runs in 12 innings during that span.
If the Marlins get to Chicago’s bullpen, the Cubs relievers will likely be tired. The Cubs have allowed 31 runs in their past two games and 41 runs in their past three contests.
The Cubs, who have lost 15 of their past 17 games, don’t have many leaders left on the roster, but pitcher Kyle Hendricks qualifies.
“We have to focus on the process right now,” Hendricks said. “We have a lot of guys who are learning their way, which is really fun to watch.
“I think it will pay off next year.”
To Hendricks’ point, the Cubs have showed some mental toughness during this slump. On Friday, for example, the Cubs fell behind 14-4 after three innings, but they outscored Miami 6-0 the rest of the way.
As for Saturday, the Cubs will have to deal with a spunky Marlins lineup that includes veterans such as Jesus Aguilar, Miguel Rojas and Lewis Brinson and rookies such as Bryan De La Cruz and Alex Jackson.
Aguilar, Miami’s first baseman, leads the league with 82 RBIs. Rojas, the shortstop and unofficial team captain, has been solid all year. And Brinson, the center fielder, has been hot the second half of this season, including an RBI double on Friday.
As for the rookies, both De La Cruz and Jackson homered in the series opener.
“I’m very excited,” De La Cruz said after his grand slam on Friday. “That’s incredible for me.”
On the mound on Saturday, the Marlins will start rookie right-hander Zach Thompson (2-5, 3.09 ERA). Thompson started Monday against the San Diego Padres and yielded four runs, four hits and four walks over four innings.
–Field Level Media