The Cubs postseason run lasted two games and ended two days into October.
Friday, the Marlins beat the Cubs 2-0 at Wrigley Field, eliminating Chicago from the postseason with a sweep in the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series.
Yu Darvish was stellar and pitched into the seventh inning, but his lone mistake cost the Cubs, whose offense struggled again and failed to capitalize on several good chances. Jason Heyward was stranded on second base following a ninth-inning leadoff double.
What comes next for the Cubs and their 2016 championship core, with several players eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, is sure to be the biggest question entering a long offseason.
"I'm very proud of this group. This is a season like no other," David Ross said. "The way they came in everyday and worked with a good attitude and energy, as their manager I'm very proud of this group.
Quick takes from the season finale:
Cy Yu’s last stand
Even with the Cubs’ offensive struggles, they liked their chances going into Friday with their Cy Young candidate on the mound. And with the season on the line, Darvish gave them exactly what they needed.
Darvish pitched 6 2/3 innings of five-hit, two-run ball. He walked two and struck out six, and the extent of the damage came with two outs in the seventh inning. He threw a 1-2, 96-mph fastball just off the corner to Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper.
Darvish hung a slider down in the zone on the next pitch, and Cooper took him deep to make it 1-0.
Matt Joyce doubled a batter later, and after an intentional walk, Magneuris Sierra knocked an RBI single to right field, making it 2-0 to end Darvish’s day.
"I can't say enough about Yu. What a phenomenal year," Ross said. "He put us in this position, to be in the postseason. Him and Kyle just had phenomenal years. It was fun to be his manager and watch him pitch every fifth day."
Marlins rookie starter Sixto Sánchez shut down the Cubs offense for five innings, working out of several jams that represented the Cubs’ best scoring chances of the afternoon.
Sánchez walked Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber to lead off the fourth inning. After a Kris Bryant line out to second base, Jason Heyward dropped a broken bat single into right field.
Contreras hesitated, making sure the ball dropped before advancing on the bases. That was enough time for Joyce to get the ball and fire it to home plate, nabbing Contreras. Javier Báez flew out to end the threat.
"I never thought we hit our stride offensively," Ross said. "We had some spurts there for a moment. These guys will go into the offseason and work and try to be better going into next year. It just felt like we could never get going this year."
The Cubs, after singles by Victor Caratini and Ian Happ, also had first and second with one out in the fifth. They even loaded the bases with two outs but came up empty.
On Sept. 20, Schwarber was pulled from Sunday Night Baseball after Twins outfielder Jake Cave hit a triple to left field. Schwarber seemed caught off guard by Cave’s aggressiveness going for third and took responsibility postgame.
His defense came up big in the fifth inning Friday. Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas banged a line drive off the left field wall, and Schwarber fired a no-hop strike to second baseman David Bote. Rojas was called safe initially but ruled out after review.
Jason Heyward made an impressive catch to lead off the fifth, getting a good jump on a line drive Joyce hit towards the right field corner. Heyward made a running catch, saving a leadoff double. Joyce’s hit had a 104.1 exit velocity and an expected batting average of .720.
Since winning Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, the Cubs are 4-10 in the postseason, including Game 163 in 2018.
"It was a hard season, for sure. Mentally, physically, emotionally. There's still teams going, and that's not trying to make excuses. This is just facts — 2020 is no joke." – Ross on the 60-game 2020 season.
The Marlins advance to play the NLDS against the Braves. The rest of the NL postseason, including the World Series, will be played in Texas as part of MLB's COVID-19 bubble.