ST. LOUIS – This is where Carlos Zambrano once went off on his “We stinks!” rant after watching another Carlos Marmol meltdown.
Strange things happen to the Cubs at Busch Stadium, and right now Jose Veras looks lost out there in the ninth inning. Still, manager Rick Renteria gave his closer a vote of confidence after Friday night’s 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in 11 innings.
“He’s still our guy,” Renteria said.
Veras put up a 7.00 ERA in spring training, blew a save in his Cubs debut and got booed off the mound last weekend at Wrigley Field. He couldn’t protect a two-run lead against the Cardinals, getting bailed out by relievers Justin Grimm (1-0) and Hector Rondon (first career save) and Welington Castillo’s three-run bomb off Trevor Rosenthal.
Veras has two blown saves, seven walks in four appearances and a 12.27 ERA.
“His stuff is there,” Renteria said. “I think he just gets a little excited. He starts pulling some pitches. He overthrows some pitches. He’s just got to find his rhythm.”
The sense of doom started in the ninth inning with Yadier Molina’s single up the middle. Veras hit Allen Craig, who sold it by leaning away from a pitch Castillo caught with his glove. Home-plate umpire Gabe Morales signaled it brushed Craig’s arm. Pinch-hitter Jon Jay laid down the perfect sacrifice bunt. Molina scored on a passed ball that went wide left of Castillo.
Veras continued to give Cubs fans Marmol flashbacks by hitting Peter Bourjos and walking Daniel Descalso to load the bases for Matt Carpenter, who lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that tied the game.
“What happened to him (can happen) to anybody,” Castillo said. “I talked to him: Just keep your head up. Just go hard the next time you have an opportunity. He’s working really hard, but sometimes you just don’t know what to do with that kind of stuff. Just get the ball tomorrow and get a save.”
Remember how Dale Sveum yanked Marmol from the closer’s role after Game 5 last season and the overall reaction became: What took so long? Ten games into this season, Renteria is getting the same questions about Veras: Why not now?
“It’s too early to decide anything like that,” Renteria said.