The Cubs came to Miami on with one thing in mind and finished the mission by sweeping the Marlins with ease. After a strong offensive performance on Monday and a dominant start by José Quintana on Tuesday, the Cubs put all the pieces together as they cruised to a 6-0 victory.
Cole Hamels followed Quintana’s ace-level outing with a gem of his own, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out eight while allowing only three hits. After being knocked around in his first start of the season, the veteran lefty looks to have settled in nicely with tonight marking his third consecutive quality start. Consistent performances like this from the “bottom” of the rotation will go a long way in the battle for the NL Central.
Daniel Descalso continued his clutch hitting in the 2nd inning, when he singled to draw first blood. The Cubs bats opened the floodgates in the 3rd inning, when a two-out rally helped them push across four runs to put the game away early. Javy Báez added to the lead late with an opposite-field home run to put the cherry on top of the quick road trip. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
Tough to choose one reason with performances like this. Hamels dominated on the mound and the offense strung together clutch hits early to give themselves a stress-free victory.
With two outs and a one-run lead in the 3rd inning, Báez took a two-strike offspeed pitch the opposite way to spark the rally that drove in four runs. Two years ago, he strikes out trying to hit the spot where the gaudy home run sculpture once sat with a mammoth swing against. He has ridden his improved plate approach to the top of the MVP discussion (at least in Chicago).
Stats That Matter
- The Cubs made quick business of that series finale, finishing the game in 2:25. Who needs a pitch clock?
- Cubs pitching leaves Miami on a high note with a five hit, NO WALK performance for their second consecutive shutout. After several worrisome performances to start the season, they’ve held opponents to two runs or less in five of the past six games.
- Bryzzo continue to struggle, going a combined 1-for-8 with a single. Scary to dream about the damage this offense can do when their All-Star bats at the top of the lineup start to click.
- Descalso continues to earn playing time with his hot bat and clutch hitting. One of the key signings this offseason, he is quickly gaining fans in the Friendly Confines by hitting .364 with nine RBI.
Early-season swings make the biggest difference. After tonight’s sweep, the pessimist will see the Cubs still under .500 and in fourth place in the NL Central. The optimist, however, sees a club that has won five of their last six games and is returning home with all cylinders firing. Let’s hope the Cubs ride this hot streak and remind the division that the season is 162 games long.
The Cubs head back to Chicago for an off day before hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley for a weekend series. Kyle Hendricks will look to get his command back after struggling in his first three starts of the season. The D-Backs have yet to announce their rotation plans for the weekend. Catch Friday’s game at 1:20pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago or tune into the radio broadcast on 670 The Score.