Game Fifty-One – Cubs 3, Marlins 7
WP – Dan Haren (6-2) LP – Jon Lester (4-4) Save – None
Jon Lester was hammered for six runs in five innings. Giancarlo Stanton and Jeff Baker hit back-to-back blasts off Lester in the fifth and the Marlins cruised to an easy win over the Cubs on Wednesday night in Miami.
A team that considers itself a contender cannot lose a game the way the Cubs did on Wednesday night with its No. 1 pitcher on the hill. The Cubs went through the motions until the sixth inning but by that time the Marlins had a 6-0 lead.
Wednesday was easily Jon Lester’s worst outing of the season. Jon Lester gave up six runs on nine hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings. Lester allowed the Marlins to score four runs in the second inning after he gave up hits to the bottom of the Marlins lineup. A mental error by Starlin Castro extended the inning and led to two more runs in the second, but the bottom line is the run scoring hits Lester surrendered were with two strikes.
The game turned ugly in the sixth when Junior Lake (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) hit a towering home run to left with Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double, two walks and a run scored) on board. Lake stood at the plate and admired his long home run and the Marlins took exception. Lake made a gesture to the Marlins bench as he rounded third to be quiet and was greeted at the plate by an unhappy J.T. Realmuto. After the two exchanged words, the benches and bullpens emptied. Punches were not thrown and no one was ejected, but down by six runs and getting embarrassed on the road, Lake should have put his head down, kept quiet and just played baseball.
Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a triple and a run scored) tripled after Lake’s blast and scored on a two-out, pinch-hit single from Matt Szczur (1-for-1 with a RBI). But the bullpen gave one of the runs right back in the bottom of the sixth and took away any momentum the Cubs may have gained in the top half.
Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson surrendered a run in the sixth as Joe Maddon used the back of his bullpen down by three runs at the time. James Russell pitched a scoreless eighth.
The Cubs staff allowed seven runs on 14 hits with two walks and just six strikeouts on Wednesday night.
The Cubs had only three hits through the first five innings off Dan Haren. The Cubs swung early and often against Dan Haren and the veteran took advantage of the aggressive Cubs’ offense.
The Cubs managed eight hits, four walks and were a miserable 1-for-7 with RISP and left 10 men on base.
Addison Russell (2-for-4), Mike Baxter (1-for-1) and Kris Bryant (1-for-5) collected hits in the loss.
In what was a rather weird game, Marlins’ former GM and current manager Dan Jennings was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a call on a check swing.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 27-24 on the season and into third place in the NL Central.
The Cubs barely made Dan Haren sweat over the first two innings. Haren retired the first six batters he faced on 17 pitches, 11 for strikes.
Jon Lester struck out Jeff Baker swinging on a 2-2 pitch to start the second inning. Marcell Ozuna singled to center on a 3-2 pitch. Ichiro popped a 1-0 pitch into shallow left. Chris Coghlan raced in and dove for the ball. Coghlan appeared to make the catch and when he hit the ground the ball popped out. With runners on first and second with one down, Lester appeared to catch Realmuto looking at a 1-2 pitch. Lester did not get the call and ended up giving up a double to weak-hitting catcher on a 3-2 pitch. Ozuna scored and the Marlins took a 1-0 lead. With runners on second and third and one down, Adeiny Hechavarria reached on an infield single up the middle. Ichiro scored and the Marlins went up 2-0.
Dan Haren popped a bunt to Rizzo with runners on the corners for the second out.
Dee Gordon rolled a 1-1 pitch to short, a routine grounder that Starlin Castro had zero sense of urgency to make a play on. Gordon, on the other hand, hustled down the line. Gordon was called out on a bang-bang play to end the inning. Dan Jennings had the umps take another look and the call was overturned. Realmuto scored and made it 3-0, Marlins. Martin Prado singled to right on a 2-2 pitch, Hechavarria scored and the Marlins took a commanding 4-0 lead. The inning finally came to an end when Stanton grounded out to third.
At the end of two innings, the Marlins led 4-0.
The Cubs continued to flail away against Dan Haren in the third, four and fifth innings. The Cubs did nothing against Haren while Lester settled down and kept the Fish off the board. But that all changed in the fifth inning.
Jon Lester threw 74 pitches, 46 for strikes, over the first four innings due to the long second inning. Lester retired Prado on a grounder to Bryant for the first out in the fifth. Lester pitched to Giancarlo Stanton and he hit a towering homer to left. Before Stanton had a chance to get comfortable in the dugout, Jeff Baker launched a solo homer to left … and the back-to-back homers gave the Marlins a 6-0 lead. After serving up a double to Ozuna and a visit to the mound, Lester caught Ichiro and Realmuto looking to end the inning.
The Marlins had a 6-0 lead after five innings.
Anthony Rizzo worked a walk with one down in the sixth. Junior Lake pulled a 0-1 pitch to deep left. Lake got all of it and he knew it. Lake admired his work before he flipped the bat toward the Cubs dugout and started rounding the bases. The Marlins were not happy with Lake and let him know it as he jogged around the infield. When Lake hit third base, he put a finger over his mouth telling the Marlins dugout to be quiet. When Lake stepped on the plate, J.T. Realmuto started jawing at Lake. The benches and bullpens cleared. Punches were not thrown and no one was ejected from the game.
Lake’s first home run of the season made it a 6-2 game.
Starlin Castro followed with a triple off the center field wall and Chris Coghlan walked on four pitches. With runners on the corners and one out, David Ross struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
Matt Szczur hit for Lester and singled to center. Castro scored and made it 6-3, Marlins. Dan Jennings went to his pen for Bryan Morris. And Addison Russell struck out swinging to end the inning.
Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson gave one of the runs right back in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Wood served up a double to Hechavarria to start the inning. Christian Yelich grounded out to short. Hechavarria held but advanced to third on a Dee Gordon single to right. With runners on the corners and one out, Maddon replaced Wood with Edwin Jackson. Prado reached on an infield single to the hole at short. Hechavarria scored, 7-3 Marlins. Gordon thought he was out at second and started jogging off the field. Russell threw to Bryant and he applied the tag for the out. After Stanton walked, Baker flied out to deep right center for the third out.
The Marlins had a 7-3 lead after six innings.
And that was the final score. The Cubs did not string together any hits against Carter Capps and the Miami bullpen.
The Cubs open a four-game series at Nationals Park on Thursday night. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face lefty Gio Gonzalez in the opener.