CHICAGO — The Miami Marlins didn’t need a hand from a fan at Wrigley Field to knock the Chicago Cubs out of the playoffs this time. The Marlins did just fine on their own, and they showed they’re hardly bottom feeders.
Garrett Cooper homered against Yu Darvish in a two-run seventh, hard-throwing rookie Sixto Sanchez dominated for five innings and the Marlins won their first playoff series in 17 years, beating the Cubs 2-0 on Friday to complete a two-game Wild Card Series sweep.
Led by manager Don Mattingly and CEO Derek Jeter, the Marlins remained unbeaten in all seven postseason series they have played, following triumphs in the 1997 and 2003 World Series. And this time, in empty Wrigley Field, they didn’t need an assist from the crowd. In Game 6 of the 2003 NL Championship Series, fan Steve Bartman deflected Luis Castillo’s foul ball as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tried to make a leaping catch, which led to an eight-run, eighth-inning rally.
“The one thing that we talked about us all year was why not us?” Mattingly said. “With this kind of pitching, you can do anything.
“You feel like you’ve got a good shot at kind of stopping almost anybody if you make pitches.”
Miami lost 105 games in 2019 and became the second team to reach the playoffs after a 100-loss campaign. They’re the first to win a postseason series after having a 100-loss season. The Marlins finished second in the NL East at 31-29 after being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that forced 18 players from the field following the opening series and prevented them from playing for more than a week.
The Marlins had T-shirts printed with “Bottom Feeders” in their dugout on Friday, a reference to a remark by Ricky Bottalico, a former Phillies pitcher and current NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst, after the Marlins’ Opening Day win in Philadelphia.
“I want to thank Ricky Bottalico for that motivation,” Miami closer Brandon Kintzler said.
Chicago, the NL Central champion, went 3-for-27 (.111) with runners on base in the series. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined to go 0-for-12 on Friday and finished the series 1-for-24. The trio is 19-for-142 (.134) with 52 strikeouts and six walks in the postseason since the 2016 World Series title as Chicago has lost nine of 13.
Chicago missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014 and then scored one run in its return. The Cubs haven’t advanced since the 2017 team lost in the NLCS.
“Just numb,” Rizzo said,
Cooper gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead with two outs in the seventh with a drive into the seats beyond the left-field wall. Matt Joyce doubled off the glove of diving center fielder Ian Happ, and Miguel Rojas chased Darvish with an RBI single.
“That’s probably the best feeling I’ve had in my baseball career, the biggest home run that I’ve had in my baseball career,” Cooper said. “It’s just something that you can’t explain.”
Sanchez overpowered the Cubs, striking out six and giving up four hits. The 22-year-old right-hander walked two and hit two batters.
Kintzler, a former Cub, gave up a leadoff double to Jason Heyward in the ninth. But Kintzler struck out the next three batters, pumping his right arm after he got pinch hitter Jason Kipnis swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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