Sunday, August 2, 2009

Almost fish-fried

When the Cubs picked up Kevin Gregg last November, I felt it was a slight downgrade at the closer position. I kept going back to a game last August when his then-employer the Florida Marlins were leading the Cubs 5-3 in the 9th and Gregg fed a 3-run homer to Daryle Ward. The Cubs won that game 6-5.

This year, however, Gregg has built a strong season from a crappy start, and with Carlos Marmol struggling nearly all year, Gregg arguably has been the MVP of the bullpen. He hasn't had any spectacular failures like the one from last August--until last night, that is.

With one strike left to gain a save and give the Cubs a victory in an 8-5 game, Gregg gave up a solo homerun and then three straight hits--two singles and a triple--that sent the game into extras at a score of 8-8.

This was one of those games that the Cubs seemed destined to lose depsite taking a 6-0 lead after two innings. Carlos Zambrano was throwing poorly and had to leave in the 3rd inning with a sore back. The bullpen gave free passes to the Marlins left and right, and the Cubs offense mostly was shut down by the Marlins' pen after the 2nd inning, striking out 11 times in the following six innings.

So, in that sense, Gregg's way-blown save fit the script. Luckily, former (actually long-ago at this point) Marlin Derrek Lee forgot to read the script. He pounded a no-doubter homerun to lead off the 10th inning, and Aaron Heilman came in for the clean save in the bottom of the 10th. The Cubs also resorted to some funny fielding moves in the 10th because they were short-handed after Aramis Ramirez had to leave the game in the top of the 10th after being hit.

So, it was a tough one, but the Cubs managed a victory in a stadium that is to them what the Metrodome is to the White Sox--a chamber of horrors. Gregg got the win, and hopefully will not have another blemish like this one in what has been a very good year for him.

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