Justin Dukes covers the Chicago Cubs and their developments for WARR.com
With a pair of 2-1 series results from the past week against the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs are looking to continue trending upward as they face the Miami Marlins this weekend.
With a 3-3 record in the past week, the Marlins entered this series with some electricity surging through the locker room after stealing a game from the rival Washington Nationals. With Max Scherzer on the verge of a no-hitter, A.J. Ellis ended the pitchers bid for a perfect game, succeeded by timely plays from the rest of his teammates.
Looking into this series, the Cubs played poorly on the road in the past couple of weeks while the Marlins have been just the opposite, playing at home within the past 5 games.
After coughing up a loss Wednesday to the Padres, the Cubs entered this series eager to closing out games that are within their grasps. Instead, in the opener Thursday they just ran through the fish, scoring two runs in the second inning and scoring the final nine runs of the contest in an 11-1 thrashing.
The series’ second contest Friday was a letdown to say the least, a 2-0 loss as the once powerful Cubbie lineup couldn’t figure out Marlins hurler Jose Urena. The offensive struggles undercut another strong pitching performance from an otherwise streaky John Lackey, who allowed only three hits in a six-inning performance. Unfortunately one of the hits was a two-run blast allowed to Giancarlo Stanton.
Game three of the series takes place at 3 pm Saturday (ABC-7, 670 The Score).
In the previous series against the Marlins at Wrigley, the Cubs looked dominant in the first two games, outscoring Miami 13-3. However, with the chance to sweep the series, the Cubs gave up home runs to J.T. Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna which helped propel the Marlins to victory, and unfortunately add another stain to the Cubs’ inconsistent season.
Pitching has been and definitely will be the deciding factor in this matchup. Both teams have had to rely on timely plays at bat throughout the season, and while clutch plays are always welcomed, consistent pitching would be an even bigger insurance policy.
With his ups and downs well-documented this season, Arrieta had a great opportunity to establish a good rhythm against the Marlins after a disappointing showing against the Pirates and he did, that has to be good news for the North Siders.
The midway point of the season is approaching, and the Cubs very realistically can take the division lead within the coming weeks. Beating teams ripe for a loss, like the Marlins, is a good first step.
Justin Dukes is a Chicago-based sports writer, follow him on Twitter @1kingzdream.