Results tagged ‘ Carlos Marmol ’

5/5 Marmol: “I’m glad he gave me the ball”

Carlos Marmol met with Dale Sveum before Sunday’s game, and asked the Cubs manager for another chance to pitch as soon as possible. Marmol got his wish, and delivered on Sunday. Marmol retired the side in order in the sixth for the first time since April 18. He’d had six rough outings in a row, including Saturday when he walked two and hit a batter.

“I’m glad he gave me the ball,” Marmol said of Sveum. “It didn’t matter what inning. I told him I want to pitch, no matter what. He gave me the ball. He trusts me and I went out there and had a good inning today.”

On Saturday, Marmol threw 14 pitches, four for strikes. The ratio was better Sunday as he threw 12 pitches, seven for strikes.

“I threw a lot of strikes today and my slider was a little better and hopefully I can keep getting three outs — one, two, three,” Marmol said.

— Carrie Muskat

5/5 Bosio on Marmol: “He tries too hard”

The only way Carlos Marmol will get back on track is to keep pitching, and that’s the Cubs’ plan. Marmol struggled on Saturday, walking two and hitting another batter, and was the losing pitcher in a 6-4 loss to the Reds. The right-hander, who lost his job as the Cubs closer after the first week of the season, now has walked 12 and hit three batters over 11 2/3 innings as well as serving up 11 hits. His ERA is an ugly 6.17.

“I think the biggest thing with Carlos is concentration from pitch to pitch,” Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said Sunday. “When Carlos gets in trouble, along with the rest of the guys, is when they get going too fast and [Saturday] was a classic case of that. You’ve just got to slow it down, visualize the pitch and execute the pitch. He’s certainly capable of doing that.”

Marmol struggled at the start of last season, and lost his job as closer then. But he was able to rebound and posted a 1.52 ERA in 30 games after the All-Star break.

“He thinks that guys are going to swing at every pitch out of his hand, and he tries to make every pitch a two-strike pitch and that’s part of the problem,” Bosio said of the right-hander. “He tries to bury the pitch and overthrow the pitch. He needs to back off. A lot of times, doing too much can be a deterrent. You’re not relaxed, you’re not getting the spin on the ball, you’re not working over the top of the ball, you’re working under the ball. Get him to relax and get him to where he was the second half of last year. That’s where we all want him to be and that’s where he wants to be.”

Bosio and Marmol reached an agreement in the second half last season that the catcher would call all the pitches. If Marmol shook them off, he had to pay the pitching coach a case of wine. Marmol only shook off once in the second half. That same rule applies this year but that’s not the problem; it’s executing the pitches.

“I think it’s his tempo and concentration for Carlos,” Bosio said. “Those are two huge things for him. I just think that at times he tries too hard. He grips the ball too hard and that’s when we see those pitches that aren’t executed.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said they’ll continue to use Marmol.

“He’s one of the seven guys [in the ‘pen] and he’s got to pitch and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion,” Sveum said. “You can’t hide people. They have to pitch.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/4 Reds 6, Cubs 4

The Cubs are convinced Carlos Marmol can still get batters out, but on Saturday, he couldn’t throw a strike. Marmol entered in the eighth with a two-run lead and failed to retire a batter, walking two and hitting another, to help the Reds rally for four runs and post a 6-4 victory over the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano hit a pair of two-run home runs and Jeff Samardzija was in line for his first win since Opening Day until the fateful eighth.

Chicago led 4-2 when Marmol took over, making his 453rd appearance, a franchise record, passing Lee Smith. But he walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, then walked Joey Votto. Dale Sveum left Marmol in, hoping he could get Brandon Phillips to ground into a double play. Instead, Marmol hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch to load the bases. Hector Rondon entered, and Jay Bruce hit a RBI single, Todd Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4. Rondon intentionally walked Xavier Paul, and unintentionally walked pinch-hitter Joel Hannahan to force in the go-ahead run. Another run scored on pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco’s sacrifice fly.

Marmol is the problem, though. In 14 appearances, he has given up 11 hits, walked 12 and hit three batters over 11 2/3 innings. He lost his job as the closer after the first week of the season, and now has a 6.17 ERA.

“I can’t throw strikes,” Marmol said. “I’m giving people a chance to score.”

What’s wrong?

“He’s not executing,” Sveum said. “He’s not throwing the ball over the plate. It doesn’t matter what pitch is called.”

The Cubs are trying to make it work for the right-hander, who lost his job as the closer last season yet won it back and finished strong. He hasn’t been able to bounce back this year.

“He’ll be pitching in roles with the game on the line, early in the game, or whatever,” Sveum said. “One way or the other, he’s got to get fixed. … I don’t even know if he threw a strike today. There were a couple swings but I don’t know if they were strikes. One way or the other, we have to get him fixed because he’s got to pitch.”

Marmol threw 14 pitches Saturday, only four were strikes, and only one was a called strike. He said he isn’t lacking confidence and that he’s healthy. He is frustrated.

“I have to go out there tomorrow and throw strikes and get people out,” Marmol said. “That’s all you can do.”

Unfortunately for the Cubs, this isn’t the first time they’ve blown a lead in the late innings. This was the 25th game out of the Cubs’ 30 to be decided by three runs or less, and Chicago now is 9-16 in those games. Twelve of those losses have been by two runs or less.

“Probably half of our losses have been these kind of losses,” Sveum said. “That’s what’s frustrating. If we could turn the switch around, we’d have eight more wins. It’s not like we’re going through a game and losing 6-2 and it’s a normal game. Whether it’s errors or walking people like today or whatever it might be, there aren’t a lot of clean games going on in the first 30 games.”

They may be frustrated but they’re not down.

“Maybe on some other teams but this team is pretty resilient,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and turn these ‘L’s’ into ‘W’s.'”

— Carrie Muskat

5/2 Post-game notes

* Travis Wood now has opened the season with six quality starts. In 17 quality starts this year, Cubs pitchers have a 2.08 ERA and only six wins. Only four NL teams have more quality starts than the Cubs.

* Scott Hairston hit a two-run home run. Three of his four hits this season have been home runs, and all three have come off left-handed pitchers.

* Carlos Marmol has made 10 straight scoreless appearances dating to April 8 against Milwaukee. However, in his last five appearances, Marmol has either given up a hit, a walk, or hit a batter.

* With Thursday’s 4-2 loss, 23 of the Cubs’ 28 games have been decided by three runs or less, and the team is 9-14 in those games. More than half of the 17 losses (10) have been by two runs or less.

— Carrie Muskat

4/28 Extra bases

* With Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Marlins, all of 24 of the Cubs’ games this season have been decided by four runs or less, a franchise record. The previous club record of 21 games to start a season with all contests decided by four runs or less took place 105 years ago in 1908.

The 24 game stretch is tied with the 1918 Cardinals for second longest in baseball. According to Elias, the only team to open the season with a longer streak was the 1914 Tigers (33 games decided by four runs or less).

* The Cubs have had three pitchers record multiple saves thus far this season: Kevin Gregg (three), Kyuji Fujikawa (two) and Carlos Marmol (two). In 45 Aprils since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969, this is the first time the Cubs have had three pitchers with multiple saves in the season’s first calendar month.

* Anthony Rizzo has now tallied 19 RBI in April, second most by a Cubs left-handed hitter. He passed Rick Monday, who drove in 18 in April 1976. Billy Williams drove in 25 runs in April 1970.

* On Monday, the Cubs start a 10-day, 10-game homestand against the Padres (four games), the Reds (three games), the Rangers (one make-up game, May 6) and the Cardinals (two games). The Cubs lost Sunday to end their 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record. So far this season, the Cubs are 5-2 against clubs that finished below .500 last season and 4-13 (.235) against winning clubs from last year.

4/24 Extra bases

Dale Sveum will still rely on the best matchup in determining his closer. On Tuesday, Kevin Gregg picked up the save, and is one of the options. So is Carlos Marmol, who lost the job after the first week of the season.

“I didn’t say [Marmol] would not be the closer,” Sveum said Wednesday. “I said it would come down to matchups.”

Gregg’s save was his first since 2011.

“Today was an awesome feeling,” Gregg said after Tuesday’s game. “I really enjoy that. That’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you’re out there making pitches in that situation. I love that pressure, I love what comes with it, of what comes from being able to carry home a victory for the team.”

* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, is throwing from 135 feet on flat ground, and has yet to throw a bullpen session. He is doing his rehab in Chicago.

* Ian Stewart was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday in a rehab start for Triple-A Iowa. Stewart is coming back from a strained left quad, suffered Feb. 21 in an intrasquad game. In seven games, he’s 2-for-24 with a double and three RBIs.

* Alfonso Soriano singled and stole two bases in the second inning on Tuesday night, but after swiping third, the Cubs veteran took a brief time out.

“I was fine,” Soriano said Wednesday. “I steal second and third on two pitches, and at age 37, I think I need a little time. Thank God, I’m feeling good. At 37, I needed extra time. I took my extra time to breathe. I can’t remember the last time I had two sprints like that.”

The last time was August 2008. Soriano stole two bases in one inning twice that month, the last one on Aug. 25 that year against the Pirates. Don’t expect him to be putting together another 40-stolen base season, though.

“I feel good in my legs,” Soriano said. “If I have a chance to steal the base, I’m going to try to do it to make the game easier for my teammates and try to score some runs. We have a very good team. I want to try to take what they give me. If they give me a stolen base, I’ll take a stolen base.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/8 Marmol: “I’m trying to do my job”

When Carlos Marmol was introduced at the Cubs home opener on Monday, he was booed by the crowd of 40,083. He was booed again when he entered the game in the eighth and served up a double to Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun on a first-pitch fastball.

“I’m not the first one, [I won’t be] the last one,” Marmol said. “I’m fine. I’m trying to do my job and trying to get people out. That’s what I need to do.”

After Braun’s double, Marmol did strike out Rickie Weeks, walked Jonathan Lucroy, which prompted more boos, and struck out Alex Gonzalez and got Martin Maldonado to ground out and end the inning.

“I felt good getting those last people out,” Marmol said. “It’s been tough for me to get three outs and put a zero on the board and I did it.”

Dale Sveum said it was tough to hear the fans razz Marmol.

“You’re with these guys every day and you know who they are behind the scenes and the adversity they have to go through,” Sveum said. “On Opening Day, to get booed like that isn’t fun for anybody. Bringing him in the game, he had to [hear] it twice in one day. It’s unfortunate but that stuff happens. It’s tough for all of us in that clubhouse to see it.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/8 Opening Day notes

* Monday’s crowd of 40,083 was the smallest at Wrigley Field for a home opener since the team drew 40,077 on April 13, 2009.

* With the 7-4 loss to the Brewers Monday, the Cubs now are 52-45-1 in 98 home openers at Wrigley Field. Overall, the home team has gone 54-45-1 in 100 openers at the ballpark, which was the home field for the Federals/Whales for two seasons before the Cubs.

* The Cubs now have lost their last three home openers, and are 2-5 in the last seven dating to 2007.

* Alfonso Soriano recorded his first multi-hit game on Monday, but still does not have an RBI. He has hit safely in his last four games. Welington Castillo has hit safely in his last three games.

* Edwin Jackson took the loss, and is the first Cubs pitcher to start the home opener not named Ryan Dempster since 2009. Jackson also is the first pitcher to make his first Cubs start at Wrigley in the home opener since Ted Lilly did so, April 9, 2007.

— Carrie Muskat

4/8 Extra bases

* Theo Epstein fully supported Dale Sveum’s decision to change closers and switch to Kyuji Fujikawa in place of Carlos Marmol.

“I think he made the right call,” Epstein said. “Marmol bounced back last year to have a really solid second half. Of course, he should’ve started this year as our closer. You don’t lose your job after two bad outings at the end of Spring Training. To do that would be counter to everything we believe in. He pitched really poorly three times to start the year,” Epstein said. “It was important for the team to make a change. We need to believe we can win these close games late. For Marmol, last year, he went back after struggling, fixed himself and came back and contributed. We need to be open to that possibility again.”

Sveum said they want Marmol to work on his pitch selection, and not get “fastball happy.”

* Darwin Barney has been cleared to do all baseball activities, but won’t get the stitches removed from his left knee until later this week. Barney, on the disabled list with a knee laceration suffered March 30 in the last exhibition game, was able to participate in all drills in batting practice. If all goes well, Barney will begin a rehab assignment this weekend at one of the Minor League teams, and then could be activated April 16.

* Matt Garza, who threw 35 pitches in his second bullpen on Sunday in Atlanta, will throw a couple more bullpen sessions and then was expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Garza has been sidelined since Feb. 17 with a strained left lat. He’s hoping to return in May.

* Last season, Cubs fans had to deal with a 101-loss season. Most understood the growing pains of the team’s rebuilding process. Does Sveum expect fans to be patient this year?

“You can only have so much patience,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they were great to us in hard times last year and understanding the process in the organization. There’s only so much you can take, especially when you have some of the best fans in the country and passionate. It’s not just Chicago — we have a following throughout the whole country. The patience has to give way sometimes — that’s just the nature of the beast.”

There’s no truth to the rumor that Epstein’s hair turned gray since he took over as Cubs president of baseball operations.

“Ten years in Boston will do that to you,” Epstein said of the flecks of gray. “Lots of blown saves. I remember my first road trip with the Red Sox, we opened on the road in ’03, we blew a save Opening Day, blew another one in Toronto, blew another one in Baltimore. They might have sprouted back then. It’s not a new development.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/7 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano talked to Carlos Marmol after the right-hander struggled on Opening Day.

“I told him, ‘Don’t lose your confidence,'” Soriano said. “It’s a long season and he has to keep working and that’s the only way you can get better is to keep working and
not lose your confidence because when you lose your confidence, everything goes negative. I tried to give him some motivation because he’s part of the team. We need him. He’ll be all right, he’ll be OK.”

* On Sunday, Dale Sveum said Kyuji Fujikawa will be the Cubs closer. The Japanese right-hander says he’s ready for whenever the Cubs need him.

“My job is to pitch whenever I’m asked,” Fujikawa said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “I didn’t have a good outing [Saturday]. I’m going to try to go back out there, and it’s a long season, I’m trying to make it as positive as possible.”

He was a closer for Hanshin for 12 years. Did he ever lose his job the way Marmol has?

“No,” Fujikawa said.

* Second baseman Darwin Barney hopes to have the stitches removed from his left knee on Monday. Barney suffered a knee laceration in the final exhibition game March 30 in Houston and is on the disabled list. He has been able to take batting practice and was going to ride a stationary bike on Sunday.

“He’s able to bend his knee all the way now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s been hitting and taking ground balls straight at him. He’ll be ready to go, just guessing five days from now, and be back with us after the off day [April 15].”

Barney was expected to get some at-bats at Class A Kane County this week.

* Ian Stewart, on the disabled list with a strained left quad, went 1-for-4 on Saturday in Mesa during an extended Spring Training game. He was the designated hitter, and had no setbacks, Sveum said. After an off day Sunday, Stewart was expected to get another four to six at-bats on Monday in Mesa. He could begin a rehab assignment in one week.

* Matt Garza, sidelined with a strained left lat, threw his second bullpen on Sunday. He was not expected to return until May.

— Carrie Muskat