CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has never been afraid to tinker with his lineup when the need arises.
With his team’s offense continuing to scuffle, Maddon inserted Willson Contreras into the leadoff spot Sunday to try to create a spark. Instead, the Cubs dropped their fifth straight game with a 4-3 loss in 14 innings to the St. Louis Cardinals.
And as has become a trend, the Cubs produced three or fewer runs for the 10th time in their last 11 games as their lack of run production continues to spell trouble for the Cubs.
Maddon is expected to turn back to Albert Almora, Jr., on Monday when the Cubs make a quick turnaround and look to snap their losing skid when they begin a three-game series against the suddenly surging Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field.
Kyle Hendricks will take the mound for the Cubs looking to bounce back from a loss in his last start against the Colorado Rockies. Hendricks allowed just four hits over 7 2/3 innings but surrendered back-to-back home runs to lead off the game. Hendricks is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins.
Hendricks (2-2, 3.19 ERA) will attempt to get back to his normal routine of allowing his defense to work behind him.
“If you make good pitches, you get soft contact, you’re going to get outs,” Hendricks said after the loss to the Rockies, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Marlins enter this week’s three-game series having won two straight and seven of their last 10 games. Miami jumped out to a 5-0 lead Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds and then held on for an 8-5 win as they continued to surge in the right direction.
The Marlins have now captured four straight series victories and might be starting to make believers out of opponents who have otherwise under-estimated the Marlins.
“I think we kind of like that underdog mentality and it adds a little fuel to the fire, and it should when people are not taking us seriously,” Miami’s Cameron Maybin told reporters, according to the Miami Herald, after he drove in two runs in Sunday’s victory. “I think this team feeds off that. Let’s keep shocking the world, because every series win, I feel like, is a shock.”
Jarlin Garcia will attempt to keep the Marlins rolling when he takes the mound in Monday’s series opener. Garcia (1-0, 1.09 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season and his sixth appearance. Garcia is coming off a no-decision in his last outing when he allowed one run and scattered five hits over six innings. The left-hander will face the Cubs as a starter for the first time in his career.
The Marlins, meanwhile, will take their preferred role as underdogs into yet another series — this time against the two-time defending National League Central champions.
“We like to go into places and people kind of let their guards down a little bit,” Maybin said, according to the Herald. “I don’t want to say they’re in for a rude awakening, but they find out real quick in the game that we’re here to fight and battle.”
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