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Cubs 10, Marlins 6: Marathon men

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The Cubs played extras again Saturday. This time, the result was better.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ON THE ROAD TO CHICAGO — If the Cubs keep playing games this long, they’re going to have to have a lot of guys on call to help out in the bullpen.

More than three and a half hours after Saturday night’s game began. Kris Bryant came to the plate with the bases loaded in the 10th inning. His drive down the left-field line cleared the bases, and Mike Montgomery finished things up for a 10-6 win over the Marlins.

That happened a long, long time after Yu Darvish’s Cubs debut ended. He served up a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich in the first inning, but Kyle Schwarber matched that feat in the second:

That ball: Crushed! And Schwarber showed off some speed, too.

The Cubs plated three runs in the fifth, the big blow being a bases-loaded single by Anthony Rizzo, just his second hit of the young season. Two runs scored on the hit, a third on an error by Cameron Maybin.

But Darvish just could not hold the lead. The Marlins also scored three in the fifth, one of their hits being a single that went off Darvish’s right foot, though he seemed fine and stayed in the game. After that, though, he seemed to lose his command and issued a walk and two more hits. At that point trainer P.J. Mainville and Joe Maddon came out to talk to Darvish, once again he stayed in the game, only to give up a two-run, game-tying single to Starlin Castro.

Brian Duensing came in and shut the Marlins down for the rest of the fifth, and I’m sure “fifth” wasn’t the inning Joe had in mind to go to his depleted bullpen.

The Cubs took the lead in the sixth, loading the bases with nobody out and scoring their run on a sacrifice fly by Jason Heyward. Heyward, who was 2-for-4, looks better at the plate so far this year. I still think he stands too far away from the plate, perhaps a remnant of his being hit in the face years ago when he was with the Braves. If he could figure out a way to stand closer...

Anyway, Steve Cishek threw an inning-plus scoreless, then Joe turned it over to Carl Edwards Jr., who finished up the seventh but got in trouble in the eighth. Three singles, the last two with two out, tied the game.

Oh, man. I thought. Not this again!

The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, and Pedro Strop, who had come in to replace CJ in the eighth, gave up a one-out single in the ninth, but got Castro to ground into an inning-ending double play.

On to extras! Oh, joy. How rare is this?

Well, rare enough, not having happened in almost five years, and as you can see, it’s clearly the Marlins’ fault.

The Cubs made quick work of the 10th inning, though. Javier Baez led off with a double and after Addison Russell walked, Ben Zobrist came to the plate:

Zobrist has swung the bat really well so far this year, showing no signs of the wrist injury that ruined his 2017 season, nor his late start to spring training. If he keeps hitting like this, Joe will have quite a bit more lineup flexibility. Eventually three straight fielder’s choices loaded the bases with two out, bringing KB to the plate, and that’s where we came in on this recap.

Despite CJ’s allowing the tying run in this game, the Cubs bullpen has been outstanding so far this young season:

To elaborate further on that, that’s 22 innings, 13 hits and nine walks allowed (1.000 WHIP), 17 strikeouts, ERA 0.82, no home runs allowed (Dietrich’s homer was the first off any Cubs pitcher this season). Thanks to the pen for stepping up on another day (like Opening Day) where the starting pitching was shaky. Final bullpen fun fact for this one:

I hope you enjoyed my little April Fool’s joke this morning. If you haven’t seen it, head to the front page and read it, or read it again and see if you got the full joke.

This afternoon, the Cubs go for the series win. Two lefthanders will match up: Jose Quintana for the Cubs and Dillon Peters for the Marlins. Game time is 12:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage today is on NBC Sports Chicago Plus. The game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.