The Cubs were getting shut out on one hit by a not-very-great Marlins team and honestly, there wasn’t much to this game, which was dragging by at a pretty slow pace.
Until the eighth inning, when not-traded Willson Contreras, who had received several warm ovations earlier in the contest, slammed a home run into the left-field bleachers with Nick Madrigal on base. Rowan Wick finished things off in the ninth and the Cubs ended a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Marlins on a gorgeous summer afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Justin Steele issued a walk in the first inning and then struck out five straight Marlins. He got into a bit of trouble in the fourth on a catcher’s interference call and two singles, which loaded the bases, but got out of that inning with a strikeout and fly ball.
Here are those two plays [VIDEO].
With one out in the fifth, Steele allowed another hit, then recorded his 10th K of the afternoon. David Ross, though, wouldn’t let him face the righty-hitting Garrett Cooper, even though Steele had retired him in the previous inning. Michael Rucker was summoned and got Cooper to fly to right.
Which left Steele with the odd pitching line of 4⅔ innings, four hits, no runs, one walk and 10 strikeouts. The 10 K’s matched his career high. Thus he recorded 14 outs, 10 by strikeout and four on fly balls to the outfield.
The Cubs, however, could do nothing with Edward Cabrera, who was making his first start returning from the injured list. Cabrera threw five no-hit innings, issuing three walks and striking out seven. Marlins manager Don Mattingly lifted Cabrera in the sixth, and Madrigal led off the inning with a single to center, breaking up the nascent no-no [VIDEO].
But the Cubs could not score.
The Marlins finally broke through in the seventh. Erich Uelmen allowed a single and hit a batter with one out, and Brandon Hughes was summoned to face the lefty-hitting Joey Wendle. This, even though Wendle had been struck out three times by the lefthanded Steele.
I think managers overplay the platoon advantage at times, and David Ross, in my view, does it too often. This has a tendency to overwork some of his relievers. If these guys are going to become useful bullpen pieces, they’re going to have to learn how to retire guys who hit from either side of the plate.
Anyway, Hughes allowed an RBI single to Wendle and the Marlins led 1-0.
The Cubs could not score in the bottom of the seventh, and Hughes retired the first two hitters in the top of the eighth. Then, guess what? Another flip flop of hitting sides, as Rowan Wick came in to face righthanded hitting Peyton Burdick — a guy making his MLB debut. Wick walked Burdick, and Jacob Stallings singled, but a fly to center ended the inning.
That set up the Cubs’ winning rally. Madrigal singled off old friend Dylan Floro leading off the eighth, and one out later, Contreras put Wrigley into a frenzy [VIDEO].
You can’t really tell on the clip because the park had partly emptied out by then due to the length of the game, but it was LOUD.
And here I’m going to present you with a fun fact I’ve been saving up for just a situation like this. That homer was Contreras’ 16th of the year. It was the first one he’s hit all year after the fifth inning. Good time to do that!
Wick retired the Marlins in order in the ninth, and here’s where I tell you another little fun fact. The first 25 outs the Marlins made were all done without an assist. Thirteen were strikeouts, 10 were fly balls to the outfield and two were popups caught by Madrigal. Having an entire game without an assist is exceptionally rare — in the quick research I did while this was still a possibility, this is the most recent example I found, from 2003. That article says it’s been done only eight times in MLB history.
But, the final two outs were ground balls, so we’ll have to wait to have another game like that.
Still, this was excellent work by the pitching staff and just enough hitting to win.
Here’s Willson after the game:
Willson Contreras, on his first game back home after the Deadline and delivering the game’s decisive blow⬇️ pic.twitter.com/DUAK0c3Zeu— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 5, 2022
One other game note: The Cubs had a moment of silence in honor of Vin Scully before the game, and then ran his one and only Wrigley rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch. If you missed it, here it is:
That happened April 19, 1998. Scully was asked to do it again, but he always said, “Just once, for Harry.” That seems appropriate.
Interestingly enough, the Cubs won that 1998 game... 2-1.
The Cubs will go for two straight over the Marlins Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and Pablo Lopez will get the call for the Marlins. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.