Remember today's game preview? Where I mentioned that the Marlins were last in the National League in runs scored and home runs (among other things)?
Naturally, that brought on a pair of Marlins home runs, one in each of the first two innings. One of them was hit by pitcher Henderson Alvarez, the first of his career and the first by a Marlins pitcher this year. Before today, just 17 home runs had been hit by major-league pitchers in 2013, five of them by Cubs.
Even more unusual: Alvarez's blast was just the sixth home run hit by a Marlins pitcher in franchise history that was a three-run homer (or more); Marlins pitchers before Monday, in all their 20-plus season history, had three three-run homers and two grand slams.
Such is the life of being a Cubs fan; this sort of thing always seems to happen to the Cubs, not to other teams. Still more to tell you how unusual Miami's pair of dingers was: this was just the 14th game this year in which the Marlins hit two or more homers (comparison point: the Cubs have 39 such games in 2013). Of those 14 games, three of them are off Cubs pitching.
The Cubs, meanwhile, had hits from their first four hitters in the game and scored three runs in the first inning. This is good, right? Sure, but after that Cubs hitters had just three singles and a double and got only one runner past first base, Ryan Sweeney on a double in the fourth; he made it to third... on a double play.
The Cubs thus lost the game 4-3, ending it on a weird double play; Darwin Barney bounced a ball right to Ed Lucas at first base. Lucas tagged the base, and then instead of having a play at Junior Lake at second, Lake retreated to first, where he was caught in a rundown and tagged out by Lucas to end the game.
Travis Wood pitched just badly enough to lose. Henderson Alvarez pitched just well enough to win, before having to leave the game with a reported minor hamstring issue (possibly from running to first base on a seventh-inning single). All of this took place in front of a crowd that was announced as 26,978, but was really far less than that actually in the house; many left after Blackhawks Hall of Famer Bobby Hull made what I'd call a weird beat-poet-like reading of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." (That's probably not cause-and-effect, but it could have been.)
Far fewer will likely be in the Wrigley Field stands Tuesday night when these two teams meet again; school's back in session, the weather is cooling off and both teams are pretty bad. If you're keeping track of such things, the Cubs maintained their one-game "lead" over the Brewers for the fourth draft pick in 2014, based on these reverse standings; the Brewers also lost Monday afternoon.
Here's one positive: Starlin Castro went 1-for-3 and made several more nice defensive plays. He seems to be playing with far more confidence since being placed back in the leadoff spot. He ought to stay there, for good, in my view.
One last thing. Orange jerseys don't look good on baseball teams. Not even one with Miami as its home base. They really ought to retire those ugly-looking things.