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Cubs 4, Marlins 2: Nick Madrigal saves the day

The infielder’s key two-run single gave the Cubs an eighth-inning lead.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

As most of you know, I have been critical of Nick Madrigal on this site in the past.

So today I will give him major props for his game-winning single in the Cubs’ eighth-inning rally. Madrigal’s two-run single with one out in the eighth gave the Cubs the lead and Miguel Amaya followed with an RBI single and the Cubs had a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Marlins, their second straight.

This game started out weirdly. The Marlins scratched their starter Bryan Hoeing and made it a bullpen game instead — though Hoeing wound up throwing the third and fourth innings for Miami. A head-scratcher, that.

Meanwhile, even though the Cubs hadn’t planned on a bullpen game, Drew Smyly made it one by struggling through a first inning in which he issued two walks and gave up an RBI single, eventually throwing 36 pitches. He was very fortunate to have allowed only one run in that inning. The second was better, but then Smyly served up a solo homer to former Cub Jorge Soler — the first for Soler as a visitor in Wrigley Field — and after allowing a couple of baserunners in the fourth, David Ross had mercy and lifted Smyly after 83 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Cubs were playing the same sad old song. Baserunners galore in the first inning — runners on first and third with one out, no runs. Runners on first and second in the third inning with NOBODY out, no runs. This was beginning to look like a replay of the road trip.

But then the Cubs cut the deficit in half in the fourth. Cody Bellinger led off with a double, and one out later Matt Mervis produced his second MLB run batted in [VIDEO].

That was a really good piece of hitting, going the other way with a sinking fastball. I like the way Mervis approaches his at-bats. Mervis note:

The game stayed that way, the Cubs down 2-1, until the bottom of the eighth. A lot of that was due to Keegan Thompson mowing down Marlins the way we remember him pitching much of last year. Thompson did allow one hit in three innings, but that runner was erased on a double play to end the top of the eighth. Thompson threw just 29 pitches (20 strikes) to record nine outs, a really efficient outing.

Then the Cubs got to work in the bottom of the eighth, and in part because the Marlins forgot how to play defense. Bellinger hit a comebacker, but Marlins first baseman Yuli Gurriel dropped the throw and Bellinger was safe at first. He proceeded to steal second and then there was this wacky play on a ball hit by Trey Mancini [VIDEO].

Bellinger had to hold to see if the ball would be caught, so he had to hold at third.

Mervis followed and struck out, but that brought up Madrigal [VIDEO].

Another really nice piece of hitting, going the other way, and it scored Bellinger and Nelson Velázquez, who had run for Mancini. Madrigal advanced to second on the throw to the plate, and that set up Miguel Amaya, batting for Tucker Barnhart, for his first MLB hit [VIDEO].

Watching Amaya’s parents celebrate the hit, and seeing the smile on Amaya’s face... this is one of the reasons we all love baseball. So happy for Amaya and his family, it has not been an easy road for him, but here’s hoping for a stellar future for him as a Chicago Cub.

And hey, look! It’s Adbert Alzolay lined up for a save opportunity, though it appeared he would have come into the game regardless. He got the first two outs on fly balls and then a grounder to Madrigal ended the game [VIDEO].

Nice diving stop, too. Again, credit where it’s due: Madrigal has worked hard to make himself into a third baseman and has done a decent job. And his hit today keyed that eighth-inning rally.

Nice work by the bullpen as well (also credit to Michael Rucker as well as Thompson and Alzolay), throwing 5⅔ scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks, with three strikeouts.

The day started drizzly and cool, but the sun came out mid-afternoon for an enthusiastic crowd of 36,418, the largest crowd at Wrigley so far this year.

So! The Cubs have a chance to return the favor of a sweep to the Marlins if they can win Sunday afternoon. Hayden Wesneski will start for the Cubs and 2022 N.L. Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara goes for Miami. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.