The Cardinals’ 5-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday set the Cubs’ first-round playoff matchup: The Cubs will face the Marlins in a best-of-three Wild Card Series.
“I think they’ve earned their spot,” Cubs manager David Ross said of the Marlins, after his own team’s 10-8 win against the White Sox. “I know they have a lot of confidence. It seems from afar that they believe in each other when nobody else does, and that’s a powerful thing.”
While the 2020 season has tested every team’s resilience, the Marlins jumped more hurdles than most others to make it to the postseason.
Miami was one of two teams – the other the Cardinals – hit hardest by COVID-19. The Marlins had the first real outbreak in Major League Baseball, when 20 members of their traveling party tested positive for the virus in the first week of the season.
Patching the holes in their lineup with 17 new players, the Marlins rebounded with a four-game winning streak out of the unexpected break.
Almost two months later, the Marlins are headed to the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 World Series title. They ended a streak of 10 straight sub-.500 seasons.
Due to the regionally-based regular season scheduled this year, the Cubs didn’t witness any of that first-hand.
“Normally whoever you see in the playoffs is someone you’ve already seen that year,” Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “But the same goes for them, they haven’t really seen us this year. So, that’s the fun part about this.”
The latest blow to the Marlins came Sunday, when outfielder Starling Marte and pitcher José Ureña left their 5-0 win against the Yankees with injuries.
Marte was hit in the helmet by a fastball but came away with just a bruise on his left ear. Ureña, on the other hand was diagnosed with a fracture in his forearm and will miss the postseason.
But the Marlins are familiar with adversity.
“It’ll be a good series,” Kipnis said. “I know that.”
The No. 3 seeded Cubs (34-26) will host the No. 6 Marlins (31-29) at Wrigley Field starting Wednesday.