Good to be back at a ballpark. Came back to a Cubs closer situation (controversy is too strong a word) at cool and foggy Wrigley Field. It takes a long time for the weather to get over the hump at this place. Manager Dale Sveum got right to it this morning, saying he called Carlos Marmol in and told him he was no longer the closer, at least for the time being. For now, that deal will go to lefty James Russell and right-hander Rafael Dolis.
The line of the morning came from Russell, who said when asked about getting the last three outs of an inning: “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.” Never good to use fire references when it comes to bullpens.
We’ll have a complete take on the situation for the Saturday paper (online later today). With the Cubs trying to ease Kerry Wood back into pitching after a DL stint, Russell and Dolis are the only two viable options. That leaves the Cubs without a left-handed situational guy, but they’ll have to deal with it the best they can. For now, Sveum said the Cubs would “wing” the ninth-inning situation based on matchups and other factors.
Dolis is a rookie who has a record of 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA, 1 save and a WHIP of 1.24. In 15.1 innings pitched, he’s given up 11 hits while walking eight and striking out four.
Russell, the most effective reliever so far for the Cubs, is 1-0 with an 0.00 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30. In 7.2 innings, he’s given up 6 hits with 4 walks and 8 strikeouts.
Marmol is 0-1 with 2 saves and an ERA of 6.23. The WHIP is a feverish 2.08. In 8.2 innings, he’s given up 8 hits while walking a team-worst 12 and striking out eight.
Russell is the son of former big-league closer Jeff Russell, a free spirit if there ever was (and still is) one.
“I like to think closers are a little screwy in the head, so maybe he passed that down to me,” James said.
There is a game to be played. The Cubs and Paul Maholm take on the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley. I’m sure hoping we see a Billingsley-Mather matchup, if the Cubs’ Joe Mather can get into the game. Cubs lineup:
The Cubs got a rare dose of good news surrounding pitcher Hayden Simpson, their No. 1 draft pick from 2010. Simpson's pro career was set behind from the start as he contracted mononucleosis during the summer he was drafted. Thursday for Peoria, though, Simpson worked 4 scoreless innings of relief in a 6-5 victory over Clearwater. He also had 4 strikeouts.
"This gives me a lot of confidence," Simpson he told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "This is probably the best outing I've had in pro ball. I was having a lot of trouble controlling the ball. I was over-thinking and trying to nibble around the plate. (Thursday night) I just threw the ball to the mitt."
Matt Loosen was the starter, and he lasted 3 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs. Rubi Silva (.330) was 2-for-4 with a walk and a homer. Nelson Perez was 2-for-4 with a homer, and Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4 with a 3-run homer.
Class AAA Iowa lost 7-6 at Memphis. Chris Rusin started and got no decision. He worked 6.1 innings, giving up 5 hits and 6 runs while walking four and striking out three. Blake Lalli hit his second homer, and Josh Vitters connected on his first. Dave Sappelt was 2-for-3 with 2 walks and a double. Anthony Rizzo extended a hit streak to 10 games by going 1-for-4.
Class AA Tennessee fell 7-4 to Montgomery. Trey McNutt lasted just 2.2 innings, giving up 2 hits and 5 runs, all earned. He walked two and struck out one. He's 0-2 with a 1.56 ERA. Justin Bour hit his third homer. Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-5 with a double.
Peoria (A) beat the Kane County Cougars 4-3 in Geneva. Jose Rosario got a no-decision, working 5.2 innings, giving up 10 hits and 3 runs, 1 earned. He walked two and struck out six. Paul Hoilman extended a hit streak to 16 games. He's at .292. Rafael Lopez was 2-for-4, as was Oliver Zapata. Pin-Chieh Chen was 3-for-3.