Cooper homers, Sánchez dominates, Marlins knock out Cubs 2-0

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Miami Marlins relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler, left, and catcher Chad Wallach (17) celebrate a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of a National League wild-card baseball series Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in Chicago. The Marlins won the series 2-0 to advance to the division series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO – The Miami Marlins didn't need a hand from a fan at Wrigley Field to knock the Chicago Cubs out of the playoffs this time. They did just fine on their own, and they showed they're hardly bottom feeders.

Garrett Cooper homered against Yu Darvish in a two-run seventh, hard-throwing rookie Sixto Sánchez dominated for five innings and the Miami Marlins won their first playoff series in 17 years, beating the Cubs 2-0 Friday to complete a two-game wild card series sweep.

Miami will face Atlanta in the NL Division Series in Houston starting Tuesday.

Led by manager Don Mattingly and CEO Derek Jeter, the Marlins remained unbeaten in all seven postseason series they have played following triumphs in the 1997 and 2003 World Series. And this time, in empty Wrigley Field, they didn’t need an assist from the crowd. In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, fan Steve Bartman deflected Luis Castillo’s foul ball as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tried to make a leaping catch, which led to an eight-run, eighth-inning rally.

“The one thing that we talked about us all year was why not us?” Mattingly said. “With this kind of pitching, you can do anything. ... You feel like you’ve got a good shot at kind of stopping almost anybody if you make pitches.”

Miami lost 105 games in 2019 and became the first team to reach the playoffs after a 100-loss season. The Marlins finished second in the NL East at 31-29 being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that forced 18 players from the field following the opening series and prevented them from playing for more than a week.

The Marlins had T-shirts with “Bottom Feeders” in their dugout Friday, a reference to a remark by Ricky Bottalico, a former Phillies pitcher and current NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst, after the Marlins’ opening-day win in Philadelphia.

“I want to thank Ricky Bottalico for that motivation,” closer Brandon Kintzler said.