Led by manager Don Mattingly and CEO Derek Jeter, the Marlins have gone undefeated in all seven of the playoffs they have contested after triumphs in the 1997 and 2003 NL Championship Series and World Series.
And this time, in empty Wrigley Field, they didn’t need a fan’s hand. In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, fan Steve Bartman deflected Luis Castillo’s foul ball as Cubs outfielder Moises Alou tried to leap forward, which led to an eight-point rally and eighth inning.
Miami lost 105 games in 2019 and became the second team to reach the playoffs after a 100-game losing season. The Marlins are the first team to win a playoff series after a 100-game losing streak. They finished second to the NL East at 31-29, being plagued by a virus outbreak at the start of the season that forced 18 players off the field after the opening series and kept them from playing for more than ‘one week.
Miami had ‘Bottom Feeders’ T-shirts in its dugout on Friday, a reference to a remark by Ricky Bottalico, former Phillies pitcher and current NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst, after the Marlins’ opening day win at Philadelphia.
“We’re here and the Phillies are at home, so I think bottom feeders are a good mantra for a living,” Cooper said.
Chicago, the NL Central champion, went 3-for-27 (.111) with base runners in the series. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined to go 0v12 on Friday and finished the series 1v24. The line is 19 for 142 (.134) with 52 strikeouts and six playoff outings since the 2016 World Series title as Chicago lost nine out of 13.
Cooper gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead with two strikeouts in the seventh with a drive in the seats past the left field wall. Matt Joyce doubled the glove for dive center outfielder Ian Happ, and Miguel Rojas chased Darvish with a single RBI.
Sanchez overpowered the Cubs, striking out six and giving up four hits. The 22-year-old right-hander walked two and hit two hitters.
Winner Brad Boxberger pitched 1⅓ innings. Richard Bleier got two strikeouts in the seventh and Yimi Garcia worked in the eighth.
Former Cub Brandon Kintzler gave Jason Heyward a brace in the ninth. But he struck out the next three hitters, pumping his right arm after getting pinch hitter Jason Kipnis swaying over a 2-2 field to end the game.
Darvish, who suffered the loss, conceded two runs and five hits in 6th innings. The four-time All-Star struck out six and scored two in his first playoff appearance since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, when he was eliminated early throwing for the Dodgers in a loss. against the Houston Astros.
But the Cubs – who ranked among the worst majors with an average of .220 – only got five hits after hitting four in a 5-1 Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.