It was a 3-1 Cubs lead when Miami starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez came up for his first time at the plate. He had five hits in 17 chances, but with only one out and runners on the corners, most people were thinking he would bunt.
With the wind blowing in, Alvarez took a first-pitch fastball inside and drove it down the line for a three-run home run and a 4-3 lead that the Marlins would not lose.
From the start of the game, it seemed like it would be a long day for the Cubs. After out-dueling Clayton Kershaw and the hot-streaking Dodgers in Los Angeles, many people were looking to starting pitcher Travis Wood to carry some momentum off of that 7 2/3 inning, one unearned run win. But that wasn’t the case.
In his first career at-bat at Wrigley Field, Marlins left-fielder Christian Yelich took a hanging breaking ball for a one-out solo home run and a brief one run lead. Wood was able to get right-fielder Giancarlo Stanton to ground out to end the inning.
The offense then had four consecutive singles from the top of the lineup to start the scoring and grab a 3-1 lead after right-fielder Nate Schierholtz‘s sacrifice fly for the third run.
After Alvarez’s home run, there were no more runs scored. The Cubs had their chances, most notably in the fourth inning when center-fielder Ryan Sweeney hit a lead-off double down the line followed by left-fielder Junior Lake being hit by a pitch. Second basemen Darwin Barney hit off three straight foul balls before hitting into a double play followed by a fly out by Wood to end the inning.
Overall, Alvarez went six innings only using 79 pitches to give up seven hits, three earned runs, and three strikeouts in the 25 batters he faced improving his record to 3-3 on the season. Remarkably, Alvarez was one of Miami’s best offensive performers of the day as he went two for two with three RBI.
In a weird moment, veteran third basemen Placido Polanco noticed something was wrong with Alvarez as he was throwing some pitches before the start of the seventh inning and left with what was diagnosed as a tight right hamstring.
But Miami’s bullpen combined for three innings, no runs allowed, and three strikeouts. Marlins’ closer Steve Cishek converted his 29 of 31 save opportunities after Barney grounded into his second double play of the day to end the Cubs’ last effort to win the game.
Marlins’ slugger Ginacarlo Stanton came into the game hitting .400 against the Cubs with five home runs, but went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. He had been listed day-to-day heading into the game after suffering a right ankle injury over the weekend.
Wood qualified for a quality start, settling in after he gave up the deciding home run to Alvarez, going seven innings and allowing four earned runs on nine hits including two home runs and struck out three while facing 31 batters. The lefty now falls to 8-11 on the year.
Reliever Carlos Villanueva finished the game out facing the minimum six batters while striking out two and lowering his ERA from 4.38 to 4.31.
Yelich and center-fielder Justin Ruggiano along with Alvarez powered the Miami offense with Yelich leading the way with three hits and Ruggiano collecting two.
Chicago catcher Dioner Navarro was playing in his 700th career Major League Baseball game and continued his career success against the Marlins (career .303 batting average against the team) going two for four with one RBI.