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Marlins 11, Cubs 10: Almora plates Rizzo in loss, fortunately, only one loss

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Something is definitely different here.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Almora Jr. went 4-for-5 and made a circus catch (did they really do those in the circus? I’ve always wondered about that) off a long drive hit by Marlins first baseman (and former Cub farmhand) Justin Bour, but it wasn’t enough, even with Addison Russell having a three-hit night, in a slugfest won by the Marlins Saturday night at Marlins Park 11-10. One of Almora’s hits, a double, scored Anthony Rizzo for the Cubs’ first run.

Pretty much every Marlin got a hit off Yu Darvish, making his debut for the Cubs and not pitching anywhere near as well as he did during spring training.

Russell hit his first home run of the 2018 season, a three-run shot in the fifth inning. But it was also Russell’s error that could have ended the bottom of the fifth that led to the Marlins scoring six unearned runs off Darvish.

If there were question marks surrounding Justin Wilson during spring camp, those questions got even louder after he relieved Darvish and served up a three-run homer to J.T. Realmuto, with one of those runs charged to Darvish. Realmuto must have been trying to channel his former teammate Giancarlo Stanton, as his blast nearly hit the kitschy home run sculpture in left-center than Derek Jeter has been trying to get rid of. That thing has kind of grown on me; I hope the Marlins keep it.

Later in the game, Kris Bryant cleared the bases with a seventh-inning double, giving the Cubs a temporary 9-8 lead. It didn’t last long when the Marlins matched it in the bottom of the inning and later took the lead back by one.

Far be it from me to criticize Joe Maddon, but I have to here. The Cubs tied the game in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Willson Contreras, but gave the run right back when Pedro Strop, who barely pitched all spring because of a leg issue and the flu, issued a bases-loaded walk. Maybe Joe should have made another choice in that inning.

Once that happened, the Cubs were done for on this night. Brad Ziegler, the Marlins’ 38-year-old closer, put the Cubs down meekly in the ninth and the Cubs posted their second defeat of the 2018 season.

One thing that this game proved: You can never be sure exactly what you’re going to see on a baseball field. Rizzo couldn’t do a tarp catch in Marlins Park, obviously because they don’t need one playing in a domed stadium, but he must have scared the heck out of the fish in the fish tank behind the plate when he jumped on top of it to catch a foul ball off the bat of his former infield teammate, Starlin Castro.

Lest you be wondering what game I was watching Saturday night, it should be obvious to you by now that something is amiss in this recap. And before you read another word, you should remember what today is and click here for the real recap of Saturday’s game.