If the Marlins were missing fire and energy, consider it found.
On a night they beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3 to win their second series in a row – the first time they’ve done that since early May – the Marlins got feisty.
Manager Dan Jennings got tossed for the first time in his career, and Jose Fernandez, still on the disabled list but closing in on a return within a month, got right in the face of Cubs right fielder Junior Lake after he shushed the Marlins dugout as he rounded third base on his sixth-inning, two-run home run.
Lake’s antics – he said he reacted to Marlins pitcher Mat Latos screaming at him from the dugout ‒ cleared the benches and bullpens for both teams. No punches were thrown and no one was ejected during the argument. But it turned what was a ho-hum, feel-good 6-0 Marlins lead into something much more interesting the rest of the way.
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And maybe it turns out to be the spark the Marlins (22-32) badly need to turn their season around.
“I probably shouldn’t have run out there on the field, but emotions took over,” said Fernandez, who along with Jennings is likely to get fined by Major League Baseball. “You’re losing 6-0, you should know what you’re doing. After he put a finger in his mouth, that was a little over the line and I reacted.”
Lake was apologetic afterward and Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the team spoke with Lake as soon as the scrum cleared.
“We don’t do that here, and that’s the last time you will see it,” Maddon said. “During the scrum, I told [Marlins pitching coach] Chuck Hernandez ‒ because that’s who I saw – I said, ‘It’s our fault. We’ll take care of it.’ That’s it.”
Said Lake: “Latos was screaming at me, cursing at me, and no man likes that. We’re men. And everybody has their attitude and character. I know what I did was wrong. I apologize to the pitcher and the rest of the team. But when a man screams at another man you don’t like that.”
Jennings got tossed in the top of the eighth when he didn’t agree with first-base umpire John Hirschbeck’s call on David Ross’ check-swing on a 3-2 pitch.
Afterward he didn’t want to talk about his ejection, but when asked when the last time he had been ejected Jennings joked: “My wife, every day, she throws me out.”
“I’ve sensed this team coming together,” Jennings continued later.
“This is a good ball club. There was a transition that was tough on everyone. There’s a lot of heart. We’re battling through some things right now with injuries. But during this time, this team has not lost heart and that’s huge. We’re gonna get some of the guys back and these guys grind through it every day. And you know what, we’re not going away.”
The Marlins jumped to a 6-0 lead by scoring four runs off Cubs starter Jon Lester in the second inning.
Giancarlo Stanton and Jeff Baker then crushed back-to-back solo home runs in the fifth off Lester ‒ something they did Saturday against the Mets.
The Cubs scored three runs off Haren in the sixth and had the tying run at the plate with two outs when Jennings replaced his starter with Bryan Morris, who struck out Cubs rookie Addison Russell to end the inning.
Lake came up again in the seventh with a runner on and struck out swinging, much to the delight of most of the 22,962 fans in attendance at Marlins Park. He then ended the game with a grounder to third in the ninth.
“I’m not an old-school type [or think] you’re not allowed to pimp any home runs, but I think if you were to ask his own team they would probably be embarrassed by it,” said Haren to improved to 6-2 overall and is now 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA at home.
The Marlins wrapped up their series with the Cubs on Wednesday and head to Colorado on Friday to face the Rockies. But they’ll see the Cubs again in Chicago July 3-5.
Fernandez will probably be back in the Marlins rotation by then.