Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol cost the team a two-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds as he spoiled a strong outing by Ryan Dempster, who was recently activated from the disabled list, by fizzling in the ninth inning and allowing a Reds 4-3 victory.
Here is what we learned and the questions we have after a frustrating Cubs loss.
Will Carlos Marmol continue to be the closer?
It's hard to believe that Marmol will continue to close after today's disaster, and he does not have the statistics to suggest he should. Marmol has looked awful all season as he blew his third save in five chances, allowing three runs (one earned) on one hit and allowing three walks.
He was wild in the ninth inning as he threw 18 pitches, but only six of them were strikes. He has walked 12 on the season in just eight-and-two-thirds innings pitched, and his current slide should not be of any surprise as this has been the norm for Marmol for the last season and a half. His ERA now sits at 6.23.
After the game, according to ESPN, Cubs manager Dale Sveum says that he'll consider moving him out of the closer's role. The Cubs do not have much room for error in this season of "building" and the Cubs can not afford to have these type of games from a closer who is supposed to be considered elite. I would not expect Marmol to be called upon to close a game the next time the Cubs need to slam the door shut.
Ryan Dempster celebrates his birthday with a gem
Dempster returned for his first game off the disabled list and looked stronger than ever on his 35th birthday. He tossed eight superb innings of three-hit ball—walking one and striking out six.
He had the Reds lineup guessing the entire game and it was unfortunate that the bullpen could not finish the game for him to earn the much-deserved victory.
Errors come back to haunt Cubs
Carlos Marmol's ineffectiveness overshadowed the Cubs' defensive miscues that cost them the lead and ultimately the game.
Ian Stewart's error in the ninth inning contributed to two unearned runs for the Reds. Relief pitcher Rafael Dolis' throwing error allowed the Reds to have runners on first and third with zero outs in the tenth inning, which prompted the winning run on a sacrifice fly from Scott Rolen.
Has the Cubs' home run drought ended?
The Cubs had five home runs in the shortened series against the Reds—including three today as Bryan LaHair, Geovany Soto and Starlin Castro each went yard. The Cubs appear to be a warm weather hitting team and will hopefully continue to crank out home runs out on a daily basis.