Jeff Samardzija Shines While Carlos Marmol Stumbles for Chicago Cubs on Opening Day

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Jeff Samardzija proved to the Chicago Cubs on Monday that he was the right choice for the position of Opening Day starting pitcher as the Cubs defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-1.

The right-hander threw eight shut out innings against the Pirates to kick off the 2013 season, giving up just two hits, one walk, and nine strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo backed up Samardzija with a two-run homer in the first inning, and Wellington Castillo added another run in the sixth inning with an RBI double.

The Cubs were set to win the first game of the new season when closer Carlos Marmol was sent in to save the game in the ninth inning.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Things went downhill for the Cubs as Marmol took over; he struck out the first batter, hit a batter, gave up a run and walked a batter before manager Dale Sveum pulled the plug on his closer. James Russell was sent in to get the second out of the inning, while Kyuji Fujikawa got a pop fly to end the game and earned himself his first save as a Cub.

So what should the Cubs have learned after their first game of 2013? That they have a stronger batting lineup this year; Starlin Castro and Rizzo should easily be able to get on base and earn their team some runs. That when Samardzija is on the mound, the Cubs can almost always be guaranteed a win. But most importantly, if the Cubs want to keep winning games, they absolutely cannot allow Marmol to be their closer any longer.

The 2013 season is starting off strong for the Cubs, but they really need to find a new closer as soon as possible.

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