Carlos Marmol screamed and pounded his chest as he walked off the mound late Monday night.
Those words Im not going to tell you would almost certainly be unprintable and difficult in translation. But the displaced Cubs closer who lost his job last week showed he wont go quietly in a 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The fans however many remained from an announced crowd of 36,307 were on edge at Wrigley Field. Trying to protect a two-run lead, Marmol had walked the first two hitters to begin the eighth inning.
Marmol got Freddie Freeman to line out sharply to shortstop Starlin Castro, who was positioned behind second base, part of the calculated gambles made by manager Dale Sveum and his coaching staff before each at-bat.
With the fog hovering overhead, Michael Bourn stole third base and a Marmol wild pitch put the potential tying-run on second. With everyone growing restless, how do you keep your focus?
Not listen to the fans, Marmol said with a smile, before reflecting for a moment. You know what, that made me go, because I needed to do better and throw strikes.
Sveum noticed Marmol hit 96 mph, and thats the point the Cubs have tried to hammer home since the start of spring training: Trust your fastball.
Marmol froze Brian McCann with an 83 mph slider and struck him out looking. He then pumped three fastballs to Dan Uggla and notched another strikeout. He once made these kinds of escapes look routine.
With nights like this, can Marmol get his swagger back?
You sure hope so, Sveum said. Thats part of the reason I never said he wasnt going to close again or setup or (take the) seventh inning. I just told him to always be ready to pitch and to fight his way back to get to that spot again to close ballgames.
It wont be easy for the Cubs to trust Marmol in the ninth inning again. But hes put together two scoreless outings since his meltdown in Cincinnati. Hes still owed around 5.7 million for the balance of this season, and 9.8 million next year. He wants another chance.
Its hard for everybody, Marmol said. Im going to keep working and be positive. Go out there and pitch like you want your job back.