Cubs manager David Ross said Friday that it’s not always who you play, but when you play them.
Entering the weekend series against the Marlins, the Cubs had been nearly unbeatable at Wrigley Field, dropping only three games at home since May 1 before Friday. Facing the Marlins, a team 10 games below .500 two days ago, that trend didn’t look likely to change.
Instead, the Cubs met the Marlins at the wrong time. After an 11-1 loss Saturday, which followed a 10-2 loss Friday — both largely at the hands of Adam Duvall, who had back-to-back multihomer games — the Cubs will have to salvage the series in the finale.
“It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing, regardless of the record,” Jake Arrieta said. “Wind blowing out, with mistakes, they’re going to make you pay, just like anybody else will. Don’t let the record fool you, these guys can play.”
The Cubs didn’t click in any way Saturday. Kris Bryant committed an error on a missed catch in the first inning and later let an easy pop-up drop for a single on a miscommunication. Jose Lobaton had a passed ball that set up a Marlins sacrifice fly, and Jason Heyward uncharacteristically dropped a fairly routine fly in right field. It was the kind of game a team is ready to flush quickly.
“We didn’t play very well in any facet of the game, to be honest with you,” Ross said. “Hitting, pitching, baserunning, defense. Just not our day. Flush that one.”
Arrieta floundered through three innings, struggling to keep fly balls out of the bleachers and runners from moving on the basepaths. The Marlins stole four bases against the Arrieta-Lobaton battery. The last time the Cubs allowed four stolen bases in the first three innings of a game was June 27, 2017, against the Nationals — a game Arrieta also started.
Pitch-wise, Arrieta’s stuff looked good. His velocity was up around the mid-90s, but Ross said at times he caught too much of the plate and the Marlins were jumping on his fastball. Arrieta attributed his rough day to some -mistakes and some plain bad luck.
“The first homer that Duvall hit — 0-2 pitch — it was actually a really nice sinker off the plate,” Arrieta said. “It’s about a ball off the plate at 95, and he hit it the opposite way pretty deep. That’s pretty much exactly where I wanted to put it.
“Could I have thrown something else? Sure. But he could also have taken it or swung and missed, so you’ve got to give him credit for swinging the bat well there.”
Duvall’s second home run came on a two-strike curveball, a mistake pitch Arrieta said just missed its spot.
The only 1-2-3 inning by Cubs pitching came in the ninth, when Eric Sogard moved from third base to the mound and got three flyouts.
The offense has been the catalyst for a lot of the Cubs’ success the last few weeks, but it hit a lull in New York and has stayed there against the Marlins. All of the Cubs’ scoring in the last six games has come via home runs. Despite the wind blowing out to center all afternoon, they mustered two baserunners against Marlins starter Pablo Lopez: Sogard (single) and Arrieta (hit by pitch).
“We just won a bunch of games in a row led by our offense,” Joc Pederson said Friday. “If we did that the whole year, we’d win 120 games, which is not realistic. It’s part of the game. It’s tough, and we’re going to keep going just like we did from the start of the year.”
Lopez threw seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. Neither baserunner he allowed made it past first. Heyward’s eighth-inning homer was the Cubs’ lone run.