The Chicago Cubs got the 2018 season started on a good note Thursday afternoon, beating the Miami Marlins 8-4. They looked to build on the early season momentum Friday night.
To say the Chicago Cubs bats underperformed in Friday night’s 17-inning loss to the Miami Marlins would be kind. Despite a stellar outing from Kyle Hendricks, the offense went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and struck out a whopping 20 times in a 2-1 loss.
Hendricks made his 2018 debut, going up against former Cubs Rule 5 draft pick Caleb Smith. Both starters were dazzling. The soft-tossing right-hander Hendricks got through six innings, while Smith got through 5 2/3 innings. This game was a pitchers’ duel.
Both teams traded runs in the third inning. Kris Bryant launched his first dinger, traveling an estimated 426 feet on a heater that couldn’t have been a better hitter’s pitch. In the bottom of the inning, Starlin Castro got a tiny bit of revenge against his old team, hitting an RBI single.
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The game stayed at 1-1 for a long time – a very long time. Eddie Butler retired the first two hitters with ease, as he had done all night. But then, Brian Anderson hit a single. Cameron Maybin followed with another and Miguel Rojas walked it off, ending the game after over five hours.
Another strong performance from the pen
As for the Cubs bullpen, the main name to remember is Eddie Butler. Of course, the right-hander earned the last roster spot out of spring training – and he left his mark on this game in a big way.
Butler gave the Cubs everything he had, pitching seven lights-out innings out of the bullpen. Unfortunately, he got saddled with the loss, adding more fuel to why pitcher record is irrelevant. Carl Edwards, Mike Montgomery and Justin Wilson all looked good, as well.
Through the first two games of the series, the bullpen has eaten a staggering 17 1/3 innings of ball. Thankfully, Butler accounts for roughly 40 percent of those frames, meaning the team will have some semblance of a pen on Saturday – but their workload jumps out as an immediate concern.
In the top of the 15th, Jason Heyward had a chance to put the Cubs back on top. But the Chicago outfielder hit a hard grounder right to first that culminated in an inning-ending double play. The next inning, the Cubs netted two-straight baserunners to open the frame. But a fielder’s choice and a pair of Ks ended that threat, as well.
Throughout the extra frames, Miami hardly threatened – even in their eventual game-winning frame. That rally came with two away – further evidence of the pitching on display in Friday’s contest.
As evidenced by the strikeout totals, this was one of those games where nothing found a hole and the strike zone was all over the place. The series continues Saturday night at 6:10 p.m. CT. Yu Darvish makes his Cubs’ debut, facing off against Odrisamer Despaigne. Despaigne may not pitch however, after appearing in relief Friday in the 17th inning.