MIAMI (Gracenote) — The Chicago Cubs were remarkably consistent during their dominant run to the World Series title a year ago considering their youth, but this season’s roller-coaster ride has been more typical of a team reliant on young talent.
After offensive performances on both ends of the spectrum in the first two games of the series, the Cubs visit the Miami Marlins for the third of a four-game set Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs’ 2-0 loss Friday night marked the sixth time they’ve been shut out this season, matching their total all of last season – one night after racking up 16 hits in an 11-1 rout.
Chicago’s lineup is far from full-strength at the moment with starters Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward on the disabled list and slumping slugger Kyle Schwarber at Triple-A Iowa.
The Marlins have won five straight home series and are 3-2 on their current homestand, but they’ve totaled just eight runs in the past four contests.
Miami’s three hits in Friday’s win marked its second-lowest hit total in a win this season and the lowest was a two-hit performance in a 2-1 win over Washington on Wednesday.
TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, ABC 7 (Chicago), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs LH Jon Lester (4-4, 3.83 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.06)
Lester posted his second straight quality start Monday against San Diego, allowing two runs and five hits over six innings with seven strikeouts, but he didn’t factor in the decision. The 33-year-old has struggled to a 1-3 record and a 5.85 ERA in six road starts, but he struck out 10 and allowed just one run over seven frames in his last outing away from home. Lester is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts against the Marlins.
Nicolino came off the disabled list Monday to make his first start in nearly three weeks. The 25-year-old was not sharp against Washington, allowing six runs (three earned) in three innings, including a pair of home runs. Nicolino is just 2-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) at Marlins Park.
1. Lester needs three strikeouts to reach 500 with the Cubs, becoming the eighth left-hander to reach the milestone with the club.
2. Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton has 12 career home runs against the Cubs, his most against any National League Central team.
3. Cubs OF-2B Ian Happ is 6-for-9 in the series.
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