In a tale of two teams, Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm and the young Miami Marlins’ playoff race will begin in the MLB Wild Card Round against the Chicago Cubs’ battle-tested group of veterans.
The Marlins (No.6) will go on the road to face the Cubs (No.3) in game one of the series 2pm Wednesday at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The game will be broadcast live on ABC.
Game two is set for Thursday (time to be announced) and if necessary, game three will be hosted Friday (time to be announced), both aired on ESPN/TBS.
The Marlins have yet to disclose a starting pitcher for game one but Cy Young contender Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA) will get the start for the Cubs in the opener.
“We’ll be rested. We’ll be ready. I think they’re going to expect to play well. I think our guys will be loose, I think we’ll be fine,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said to the Sun Sentinel. “This group has been a solid group, a great group actually, trustworthy from the standpoint they’ll be ready to play. Anything that’s come their way, they’ve dealt with, so really proud of these guys and happy to have a winning record.
The Marlins were the worst team in the National League a season ago at 57-105 and began this year hampered by a COVID-19 breakout which forced a constant roster turnover throughout the season. Eighteen players tested positive for COVID-19 and the Marlins had more transactions than any other team in an effort to fill roster spots. Their 16 season playoff drought was the second-longest active streak in the majors.
The Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and have made the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. The core from that World Series winning team is still on the roster in 2020.
“This is the hardest baseball season, I think, anybody’s ever really had to go through,” Cubs manager David Ross said to MLB.com. “Whoever wins the World Series this year should be extremely proud of overcoming adversity, keeping your team healthy through all this, and together.”
The two franchises last faced off in the playoffs in the 2003 National League Championship Series, now famous for the “Steve Bartman incident” in game six.
The incident occurred in the eighth inning of game six with Chicago leading 3–0 and holding a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series.
Marlins batter Luis Castillo hit a fly ball into foul territory in left field. Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou pursued the ball and leaped near the fence in an attempt to make the catch.
Along with other spectators seated against the wall, Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached for the ball, but he deflected it, disrupting Alou’s potential catch.
If Alou had caught the ball, it would have been the second out in the inning, and the Cubs would have been just four outs away from winning their first National League pennant since 1945.
The Cubs ultimately allowed eight runs in the inning and lost the game 8–3. The Marlins went on to complete the unlikely comeback and win the NLCS in seven games the next day to advance. They went on to win the NLCS and eventually, the second World Series in franchise history.
Chisholm had his best game of the year in Sunday afternoon’s regular season finale, a 5-0 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York City, New York.
He blasted his second home run of the season, added a two-RBI double, finished 2-4 at the plate with three RBI and scored two runs. Defensively, he flashed the potential at shortstop that makes him one of the most highly touted prospects in the organisation.
“It’s fun. Growing up as a kid you always wanted to play in Yankee Stadium. It was really cool to be able to perform like this but I have to give all support for my teammates because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to perform like I did.
“I was just out there playing defence, they were two great amazing plays but I go out there and try to make those plays everyday. I’m always ready for those plays every single pitch, no plays off,” he said. “The game gets better with reps so going out there everytime getting the reps in. It feels great.”