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FIRST LOOK: Marlins vs. Cubs

October 06, 2003|Alex Kimball

REGULAR-SEASON RECORD

Marlins 91-71, Cubs 88-74.

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HEAD TO HEAD

Cubs won season series, 4-2.

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HOW THEY GOT HERE

Marlins defeated Giants in division series, 3-1. Cubs defeated Braves in division series, 3-2.

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TEAM BATTING

Marlins .266, fifth in NL; Cubs .259, 11th in NL.

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RUNS SCORED

Marlins 751, eighth in NL; Cubs 724, ninth in NL.

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TEAM ERA

Marlins 4.04, seventh in NL; Cubs 3.83, third in NL.

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BATTING

The Marlins have two outstanding table-setters at the top of the lineup in Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo, and led the majors with 150 stolen bases, 50 more than the No. 2 team in the National League, Montreal. They also have five players who drove in more than 85 runs: Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Jeff Conine, Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Encarnacion. It's unclear how much Lowell will play, however -- he still isn't 100% after returning from a broken hand. Other than the aging Kenny Lofton, the Cubs have little speed, and they hit into 135 double plays, 21 more than the Marlins. They also struck out 1,158 times, third-worst in the league. The Cubs do have several veteran run producers led, of course, by Sammy Sosa, who hit 40 home runs. Aramis Ramirez (27 homers, 106 RBIs) had plenty of big hits after coming over from Pittsburgh, and Moises Alou drove in 91 runs.

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ROTATION

The Cubs hold a decided advantage with Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement. Prior and Wood pitched brilliantly against the Braves. The Cubs were third in the league in earned-run average, and the staff was first in the NL in strikeouts with 1,404. The Marlins don't have a dominant guy at the front of the rotation, but Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, rookie Dontrelle Willis and Mark Redman keep the ball in the park (only 128 homers given up, only one more than the league-leading Dodgers) and their team in the game.

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BULLPEN

Neither of the closers reminds anyone of Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees or Eric Gagne of the Dodgers. But Joe Borowski was a pleasant surprise as the Cub closer, converting 33 of 37 save chances. Ugueth Urbina, who took over as Marlin closer from Braden Looper late in the season, needed Rodriguez to bail him out with a play at the plate to preserve the Game 4 win against the Giants. Looper pitched well in the division series, as did Carl Pavano. Mike Remlinger is a top-notch left-handed set-up man for the Cubs, but the status of Kyle Farnsworth, who was injured in Game 4, is up in the air.

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DEFENSE

The Marlins were second in the league in fielding, and are extremely strong up the middle with catcher Rodriguez, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, second baseman Castillo and center fielder Pierre. The Cub outfield of Alou, Lofton and Sosa has limited range, which could be a big factor at Pro Player Stadium. First basemen Eric Karros and Randall Simon aren't much better than average, and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek has limited range.

-- Alex Kimball

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