Young Cubs cruise to sixth straight win
Chicago draws 12 walks, capitalizes to back Samardzija
MIAMI -- The Cubs let their youngest and most inexperienced players get some significant playing time Sunday against the Marlins. Manager Mike Quade thought it'd be a fun day, and he was right.
The Cubs scored eight runs in the first two innings to coast to a 13-3 victory at Sun Life Stadium.
The victory was the Cubs' season-high sixth in a row and completed a three-game sweep of the Marlins.
Moreover, it allowed them to do something no other Cubs team has ever done, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
They have the highest winning percentage on any road trip of at least nine games. They won eight, a percentage of .889.
"To play this well and to overcome a place like this, I'd be hard-pressed to find out how it could have worked out much better," Quade said.
Jeff Baker and Welington Castillo each drove in three runs. And Brad Snyder secured his first Major League hit and RBI in the game.
Snyder said he felt a tightness, "probably from lack of breathing," when the game started. But he said after his run-producing single in the second inning, he felt himself loosen up.
"I got my first start, first hit and first RBI," he said. "I can't complain about the way the day went."
Baker drove in the Cubs' first run with a double, and he came home on a Bobby Scales single. That set the tone of the game, and the second inning turned it into a rout.
The Marlins issued six walks in the inning, four of them in a row as their fans began booing each bad pitch. Baker, Micah Hoffpauir and Tyler Colvin each drove in a run by walking.
In all, the Cubs sent 12 batters to the plate. Castillo made the most of his two at-bats, walking and scoring and driving in a run with a double.
"To be able to have a 7-8 spot on the board even before you go out and throw your 30th pitch is nice," starter Jeff Samardzija said. "Things loosened up a little bit in the dugout."
Samardzija also changed his pitching approach.
"You're challenging hitters more, trying to make them put the ball in play," he said. "You want to keep the game moving."
Castillo stuck around to finish the onslaught with his first Major League home run in a four-run ninth. He said he knew Marlins pitcher Burke Badenhop from the Minors and took advantage of that knowledge.
"He has a good two-seam fastball, so thought I'd see it," Castillo said. "I adjusted a little and put a good swing on it."
The only sobering moment came when Castillo's bat splintered on his second-inning double, and the sharp end penetrated Colvin's left side near the collarbone. He was taken to the hospital.
Looking in from second base, Castillo sensed something was wrong with Colvin. But he still wasn't sure until he got back to the dugout.
Colvin's loss -- and a team spokesman said it's fair to say he's out for the season -- made it a double loss for the Cubs in the personnel department. Before the game, Chicago lost catcher Geovany Soto for the season with right shoulder joint problems that will require surgery.
Samardzija, making just his second start of the season and fourth of his career, lasted six innings and gave up three runs.
Samardzija allowed just three hits, though two of them were home runs and produced all of Florida's runs. He walked three and struck out four in moving to 2-1 on the season.
He said he did not feel slighted at all when the Cubs chose to use many of their most inexperienced players on the day he pitched. That's because he knew what they could do from his days at Triple-A Iowa.
"Those guys have always played well behind me," Samardzija said. "I had a good idea about what they could do. And I was right."
Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.