While Opening Day was a strong start for the Chicago Cubs, there was a bit of a scary moment in the ninth inning when the Cubs brought in Carlos Marmol to close out the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Marmol came dangerously close to destroying starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija‘s eight innings of hard work: the closer struck out a batter, hit a batter, gave up a hit, gave up a run and issued a walk before manager Dale Sveum pulled him from the game.
Luckily, James Russell came in to get the second out of the inning while Kyuji Fujikawa got the third out and earned his first save as a Cub.
To be honest, it frightens me that after only one game, Marmol has come close to blowing a well-played game for the Cubs. What stuns me even more is that Sveum still has no intention of removing Marmol from the closer role — he has been given multiple chances to prove that he can handle the role and he has failed time and time again.
After yesterday’s win, Sveum told Cubs’ beat writer Carrie Muskat of his closer, “Marmol didn’t really have it today so I went to a couple other guys to get those last two outs … He’s still the closer. I’m not making any changes or anything like that, he just didn’t have it today.”
Many fans could argue the fact that Marmol should be replaced as the closer by Fujikawa, a pitcher with an impressive record from his 12 years of playing in Japan. At least give him a chance to see if he can handle the closing role — he has to be better than Marmol, right?
With that said, the Cubs could be looking at a decent season this year if they could secure those games with a reliable closer. Maybe Fujikawa’s save yesterday will convince Sveum sometime in the near future to try out a new closer.