Garrett Cooper homered against Yu Darvish in a two-run seventh, hard-throwing rookie Sixto Sánchez dominated for five innings and the Miami Marlins won their first playoff series in 17 years, beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 Friday to complete a two-game wild card series sweep.
Miami will face Atlanta in the NL Division Series in Houston starting Tuesday.
Led by manager Don Mattingly and CEO Derek Jeter, the Marlins remained unbeaten in all seven postseason series they have played following triumphs in the 1997 and 2003 NL Championship and World Series.
And this time, in empty Wrigley Field, they didn’t need a hand from a fan. In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, fan Steve Bartman deflected Luis Castillo’s foul ball as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tried to make a leaping catch, which led to an eight-run, eighth-inning rally.
Miami lost 105 games in 2019 and became the first team to reach the playoffs after a 100-loss season. The Marlins finished second in the NL East at 31-29 being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that forced 18 players from the field following the opening series and prevented them from playing for more than a week.
Miami had T-shirts with “Bottom Feeders” in its dugout Friday, a reference to a remark by Ricky Bottalico, a former Phillies pitcher and current NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst, after the Marlins’ opening-day win in Philadelphia.
“We’re here and the Phillies are at home, so I think the `bottom feeders’ is a good mantra to live on,” Cooper said.
Chicago, the NL Central champion, went 3 for 27 (.111) with runners on base in the series. Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined to go 0 for 12 Friday and finished the series 1 for 24. The trio is 19 for 142 (.134) with 52 strikeouts and six walks in the postseason since the 2016 World Series title as Chicago has lost nine of 13.
Cooper gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead with two out in the seventh with a drive into the seats beyond the left-field wall. Matt Joyce doubled off the glove of diving center fielder Ian Happ, and Miguel Rojas chased Darvish with an RBI single.
Sanchez overpowered the Cubs, striking out six and giving up four hits. The 22-year-old right-hander walked two and hit two batters.
Winner Brad Boxberger threw 1 1/3 innings. Richard Bleier got two outs in the seventh and Yimi García worked the eighth.
Former Cub Brandon Kintzler gave up a leadoff double to Jason Heyward in the ninth. But he struck out the next three batters, pumping his right arm after he got pinch hitter Jason Kipnis swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
Darvish, who took the loss, gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. The four-time All-Star struck out six and walked two in his first playoff appearance since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, when he got knocked out early pitching for the Dodgers in a loss to the Houston Astros.
But the Cubs — who ranked among the worst in the majors with a .220 average — got just five hits after managing four in a 5-1 on Wednesday.
Marlins: The Marlins held OF Starling Marte out of the lineup because of a small nondisplaced fracture of the bone running between his left pinky and wrist. He was hit by a fastball in the ninth inning Wednesday.
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