Marlins hope pitching leads to series split with Cubs

MIAMI — The Miami Marlins allowed one run on the first pitch of Thursday’s season opener against the Chicago Cubs. On Friday, the Marlins allowed the Cubs one run in 17 innings.

On Sunday afternoon, just hours after Saturday night’s 10-6 loss, the Marlins will try for a series split.

Sunday’s pitching match will feature a pair of left-handers: Jose Quintana for the Cubs and Dillon Peters for Miami.

Quintana split last season between Chicago’s two major league teams, going a combined 11-11 with a 4.15 ERA in 32 starts for the White Sox and Cubs. In his 14 starts with the Cubs, he went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA, making the postseason for the first time in his career.

He struck out a career-best 9.9 batters per nine innings last year, and his rate was even better with the Cubs (10.5).

Quintana told the Chicago Sun Times that his most recent start that mattered — a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in last year’s Game 5 of the National League Championship Series — still sticks with him.

“I have the playoffs in my mind,” Quintana said. “(I’m) hungry to (get) back to October.”

Peters, meanwhile, is not likely to have to worry about the playoffs anytime soon. The Marlins are rebuilding — yet again — and Peters made an Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.

Last April, Peters was in the minors when he got hurt fielding a ground ball, suffering a fractured left thumb that cost him three months.

“Sitting in rehab for a few months is rough on anybody,” Peters told the Sun-Sentinel. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but it finished positively.”

Indeed, Peters, 25, was still able to rally last season, making his major league debut on Sept. 1, pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out eight. He tied a franchise record for most strikeouts in a Marlins debut.

Peters also held the Atlanta Braves scoreless in his last appearance of 2017, allowing just two hits in 5 2/3 innings.

In between, however, Peters had lapses and finished with a 1-2 record and a 5.17 ERA. Control was an issue as Peters walked 19 batters in 31 1/3 innings. That resulted in a 1.628 WHIP — far too many base-runners for his own good.

Peters was actually sent down to minor league camp earlier this spring. But he was brought back to major league camp after a forearm injury to Marlins starter Dan Straily.

Given another shot, Peters elevated his game, and now here he is, set to face a talented Cubs squad that had five extra-base hits on Saturday, including Kyle Schwarber’s second homer and Kris Bryant’s third double.

“We’ve seen some good, and we’ve seen some bad,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Peters this spring. “But we’ve seen improvement (in recent bullpen sessions).”

In terms of bullpens, both the Marlins and Cubs crews are nearly spent after playing 27 innings in two nights. Miami’s bullpen covered a combined 17 innings in those two games. Chicago’s bullpen covered 16 1/3 innings.