Marmol says he deserves the boos, and will take the heat

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Marmol says he deserves the boos, and will take the heat

When things go wrong, Carlos Marmol doesnt hide. The Cubs closer posts up at his locker and is willing to take the heat.

By now, Marmol knows the expectations around here, how much the fans want him to get the job done. So his reaction to all the booing at Wrigley Field is about what youd expect.

I deserve it all, Marmol said. Its OK.

The media pretty much left Marmol alone after Wednesdays 5-1 loss to the Cardinals. He had pitched a scoreless ninth inning, but thats not really a story.

Marmol can be an afterthought when the Cubs dont score runs and their rotation flickers in and out. The night before, Matt Holliday had muscled a 2-2 slider over the wall in left-center.

Marmol had waited 16 days for a save opportunity. Holliday a man with a World Series ring and a 120 million contract ruined it with a go-ahead, two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning.

I say it every time the games not easy, Marmol said. Anybody who thinks that game is easy is wrong.

That was essentially Dale Sveums takeaway, giving credit to Holliday, and not setting off any warning flares about Marmol, who has held the opponent scoreless in six of his last seven appearances.

The players respect that the Cubs manager appreciates how hard this game can be, and it will provide cover during a rebuilding year.

Its not that easy to always get a one-run save, Sveum said. The other guys on the other side of the fence are paid a lot of money to hit home runs. Sometimes they catch one. Other nights, its the same exact pitch and its a pop-up to the infield.

So theres no closer controversy here. Sveum gave Marmol the vote of confidence, but in the ninth inning theres really nowhere else to turn. Theres no timetable for Kerry Woods return from the disabled list.

Sean Marshall is closing for Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. Andrew Cashner is throwing 100 mph heat for San Diego. Jeff Samardzija got what he wanted, the chance to show he belongs in the rotation.

Lets be honest, weve taken away from the bullpen, Theo Epstein said near the end of spring training. Thats a huge void. Thats a good bullpen right there, just with those guys weve taken away.

Across the past six months, Epsteins front office has already stripped apart the bullpen, waved goodbye to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, and paid roughly 20 million to get rid of Carlos Zambrano and Marlon Byrd.

A closer whos owed almost 6.2 million for the rest of this season, and 9.8 million next season, could be considered a luxury item for a team thats in rebuilding mode.

Either way, the Cubs are looking toward the future, which is why theyre carrying Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, and hoping for breakthroughs from Rafael Dolis, James Russell and Michael Bowden out of the bullpen.

We knew coming in that was going to be an issue for us to address, Epstein said. To be honest with you, most clubs address it all year long. So whatever seven guys out of the pen we start the season withthats not necessarily the final answer.

Lets be realistic, theres going to be tweaking and adjusting based on performance and health and attrition throughout the course of a whole season. Its a challenge for us, given what weve taken out of the bullpen, but its also an opportunity.

Were going to be pretty young (and) inexperienced. Its a chance for some guys to develop over the course of this season.

They wont want to copy Marmols off-the-wall mechanics, but they could learn something from a guy with a short memory whos taken the ball 400 times for the Cubs.

I dont make excuses, Marmol said. Whatever you got, you give it that day.

Cubs, White Sox react to news of Jose Fernandez's death

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Cubs, White Sox react to news of Jose Fernandez's death

The baseball world was rocked Sunday morning by the news that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident at the age of 24.

"All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez," Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was one of our game's great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life."

Chicago baseball teams and players shared their own messages on Twitter after the news broke.

Born in Cuba, Fernandez had a long and dangerous journey defecting to the United States. Unsuccessful attempts to defects were followed by prison terms, and during his successful attempt, he rescued his mother from drowning after she fell overboard. He was only 15 years old at the time.

Fernandez, who won National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2013, was twice named an NL All Star, including this season. He had a sparkling 2.58 ERA in his four big league seasons. After dealing with injuries that limited him to 19 combined starts during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Fernandez was stellar this season, posting a 2.86 ERA and striking out a whopping 253 batters in 182 1/3 innings.

After locking up homefield advantage, Cubs flummoxed by Cardinals in blowout loss

After locking up homefield advantage, Cubs flummoxed by Cardinals in blowout loss

At the end of the day, a loss means essentially nothing for the Cubs right now.

But the Cubs also certainly don't want to hand games to their division rival as the St. Louis Cardinals make a run at the National League wild card spots.

After the Cubs clinched homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs with the Washington Nationals' loss Friday night, they had no answer for the Cardinals in a 10-4 loss in front of 40,785 fans at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon on national TV.

A few disturbing trends popped their heads above ground for the Cubs again Saturday, including the offense's struggles at manufacturing runs, Jason Hammel getting shelled and some bullpen woes.

The Cubs had no trouble putting runners on base against Cardinals phenom Alex Reyes, but they had a tough time plating those guys, cashing in only once with a runner on third base in six tries over the first four innings.

In two of those spots, a Cubs hitter came up with only one out, but failed to bring the run home as Addison Russell struck out in the first inning and Kris Bryant popped out to shallow left in the second.

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Hammel recorded only seven outs and was tagged for six runs on six hits and a walk, watching his season ERA rise nearly 30 points to 3.83. The veteran right-hander fell to 15-10 as he attempts to make a push for one of the Cubs' final postseason roster spots.

"Honestly, I would love to be a part of [the playoff roster], as the rest of the guys on the team would love to," Hammel said. "I know there's only a certain amount of spots, so if I'm handed the ball, I'll be ready. That's the way I'm gonna view it.

"Obviously you wanna be a part of something special like that, but I think everybody here has already been a part of something special to get to this point. We're all very proud. We still got eight regular season ballgames left to build some momentum. Whether I'm on the roster or not, I'm still gonna enjoy it."

Hammel was also clearly on the wrong end of some bad luck Saturday, as the four runs he allowed in the first came via a check swing and a couple hits just out of the reach of his fielders. 

Joe Maddon won't put too much stock into one rough start in late September.

"I'm not too worried about a good or bad outing right now. I'm not," he said. "Pretty much, you know who the guy is. You know if the guy's go this stuff going on or if he doesn't. ... The greater body of work matters."

Setup man Hector Rondon struggled in his appearance, needing 26 pitches to notch just one out, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk before handing the ball off to Felix Pena.

Of course, it's also just one game and one loss for a team with 98 victories and hopes of the World Series.

Rondon had been nearly unhittable since returning from the disabled list two weeks ago and the Cubs offense had been efficient and relentless in the past four games after Maddon's meeting with the hitters earlier in the week.

Maddon also used the blowout to get regulars like Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Russell out of the lineup to help keep them fresh for October.

After the game, Maddon chose to look on the bright side.

"Our starter had a tough day today; that's it. Otherwise we did some nice things," he said, referencing the solid offensive days from Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. "We had chances to score runs - runners on third, less than two outs - and we didn't fulfill that.

"We made their starter throw 115 pitches in five innings; I think that's a positive."

The Cubs will close out their season series with the Cardinals on another nationally-televised showdown Sunday night between Jon Lester and St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez.