Cubs fans used to watch Carlos Marmol for the escape, not the crash. He’d somehow get out of the jam with that unpredictable slider, scream and pump his fist.
Now they dread watching the guy who was such a huge part of those teams that won back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008. That’s ancient history in this organization.
It was too cold, too empty and too late at Wrigley Field for the crowd of 30,065 to reach jet engine noise levels. But after getting the win in Tuesday night’s 6-3 comeback victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, maybe Marmol can quiet the boos.
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“Hopefully he pitches well in the role he’s at (now) and does really good things,” manager Dale Sveum said. “And things do lighten up. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the fans’ prerogative. They pay their money for the ticket.
“We’ve all been booed and been in big cities, the Bostons and the New Yorks and the Phillys, where when things aren’t going good, guys get booed. That comes with that ticket.”
So much for easing the ex-closer back into it with lower-stress situations. With the Cubs (3-5) tying the game in the seventh inning, Shawn Camp unavailable because of his recent workload and unfavorable matchups for Sveum’s left-handers, it was Marmol Time.
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Marmol needed only nine pitches – and a great play by Starlin Castro – to put together a scoreless eighth inning that sliced his ERA to 12.27. After Jean Segura’s two-out triple, Yuniesky Betancourt bounced a ball up the middle and Castro made a diving stop.
On a 39-degree night with the winds whipping in at 23 mph, Castro had committed an error and looked shaky during the three-run second inning. But the All-Star shortstop threw out Betancourt and bailed out Marmol.
“He needs to feel comfortable right now,” Castro said. “He needs help (from us).”
In the ninth inning, new closer Kyuji Fujikawa allowed the tying run to get to the plate before inducing a pop-out from Jonathan Lucroy to notch his second save and press play on “Go Cubs Go.”
Sveum expects Fujikawa to take the closer’s job and run with it. But the manager’s also not going to bury Marmol. (If possible, the front office wouldn’t mind restoring at least some semblance of trade value this summer.)
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Marmol takes the heat and doesn’t hide out in the clubhouse lounge or training room. But no good reliever wants to be the center of attention this way. And he’s not going to lobby for his old job.
“I’m glad (Sveum) gave me that situation and we made the people happy,” Marmol said with a laugh. “Whatever the manager says, I’ll do it, no matter if it’s the first inning or the last inning.”