Now hiring, relievers wanted
It was opening day part two at Wrigley Field following yet another bullpen collapse.
The late-inning duo of Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood each have an ERA of 27.00 after a teeth gnashing, 7-4 loss to the Nationals on Saturday.
Like Ryan Dempster from the previous day, starter Matt Garza was stellar. The right-hander allowed two runs over six innings before turning the ball over, departing the mound with a 4-2 lead.
Rookie Rafael Dolis twirled a perfect seventh, preserving the two run lead for veteran set-up man Wood.
Déjà vu seemed to be void at Wrigley with Wood retiring two quick batters in the eight - that is until Danny Espinosa stepped into the box.
Working the count to full, Danny Espinosa fouled off four straight 3-2 pitches before slapping an opposite-field homer that pulled the Nationals within one.
The flood gates then opened.
Wood struggled with pitch placement, giving up back-to-back singles before manager Dale Sveum arose from the dugout to summon Marmol.
The max-effort closer threw 23 pitches before getting a first out.
A Jayson Werth walk loaded the bases before Marmol served up a two-run single to Chad Tracy, giving the Nationals a lead which was only padded by a Roger Bernadia RBI double later that same inning.
Sveum and the crowd had seen enough. The boo’s rained down on the ineffective closer as he exited and littered the mound for entering reliever Shawn Camp.
Camp proceeded to give up an RBI single to Steve Lombardozzi before finding the strength to record the final out of the eighth.
Going two 2-for12 with runners in scoring position, Starlin Castro, Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker failed to make contact in the ninth, sealing the Cubs’ game two fate.
The huge void in the bullpen created by offseason departures of Sean Marshall and Andrew Cashner furthers. The two ‘proven’ pitchers in the pen have been nightmarish in the Cubs’ first two contests.
Taking the Thursday loss, Marmol has yet to strike out a batter in his two innings of work but has managed to allow three runs on four hits and two walks. The other corner-stone in the bullpen, Wood, has been equally displeasing. Earning the loss on Saturday, Wood has allowed three runs on three hits while walking three in his two outings.
After the 7-4 loss, Sveum laughed at the idea of changing the configuration of the Cubs’ bullpen. It is early, but veteran relievers Wood and Marmol blew a solid start for the second straight game.