Sean Marshall of the Cincinnati Reds Gives Me Coco-itis When He Tries to Close

Cliff Eastham@RedsToTheBoneSenior Writer IIMay 11, 2012

Sean Marshall
Sean MarshallJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Francisco Cordero (AKA “Coco”) got me hooked on Maalox when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. Heartburn City was where I was living.

He could come into a game with a clean slate and by the time it was over, the chalkboard looked like Einstein was writing equations that only he could understand.

That same characteristic has been passed down to his successor, albeit by misfortune, Sean Marshall.

Marshall is considered to be one of the best setup men in all of baseball. I can attest to his eighth-inning prowess by watching him battle against the Reds while with the Chicago Cubs.

A setup man extraordinaire! But not a closer. I am sorry to tell you this, but it is the plain unadulterated truth. Love you, man. Good on ya, Sean. Coco-itis is nothing to be looked at or talked about mindlessly.

The first dose of Maalox on Marshall’s watch started April 26 in a game against the San Francisco Giants. The Reds were all keyed-up for a three-game sweep and then it started.

In the top of the ninth with the Reds leading 5-3, Marshall promptly issued a base on balls and surrendered a single. After striking out Brett Pill on three pitches, he let Angel Pagan leave the yard, which gave the Giants what turned out to be a 6-5 win.

Wow! Just wow. You know you have stunk up the place when you have two decisions on your line in the box score: a blown save and a loss.

Visions of that catastrophic scenario played in my mind as I watched him face the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon.

Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto had engaged in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, with the Reds scoring in the top of the ninth to take a 2-0 lead.

Then it happened.  With a 2-2 count to Ryan Braun to open the inning, the guts started churning. That burning sensation. The next pitch saw Braun leave the yard and with him, any confidence I ever had in Marshall.

After taking Aramis Ramirez to a full count, he dispatched the third baseman with a swinging strikeout. Maybe he can get out of this thing after all. Burn.

Then Corey Hart hit a ball so far into center field that Drew Stubbs was closer to the wall than pee on a board. Nice catch, two outs now. Hold steady, son.

Jonathan Lucroy belts a line drive single to left field and the nausea becomes audible. My stomach is growling and asking Dusty Baker if he sees what it sees. Baker is working overtime on his toothpick.

Norichika Aoki blooped the first pitch into short left where nobody was and became the winning run on first base. C’mon, Dusty, send him into that sweet night, because he won’t go gently.

The Coco-itis begins to subside as Baker takes the ball from Marshall, who trots off into a place called Humiliation.

What message does that send to the enemy? You have just taken the spear from your most decorated warrior and given it to an understudy.

Aroldis Chapman
Aroldis ChapmanMatt Sullivan/Getty Images

If that isn’t tantamount to waving the white flag, then I don’t know what is.

Logan Ondrusek came on to put out the fire (the one the Brewers had started, plus the one in my belly). He made it very interesting, however, by loading them up with a walk before inducing a game-ending pop-up to Chris Heisey.

The moral of the story is if Aroldis Chapman is throwing aspirins at 101 mph and blowing them by the batters, don’t press your luck by bringing in a so-called closer just to appease traditionalists.

Seriously, my entrails cannot afford the further damage that will be caused by Marshall remaining in the closer role.

The entire time Cordero was closing for the Reds I can only recall Baker bringing the hook out to get him twice. It may have been more, but that is all that I can recall. He has already done it with Marshall in only his seventh chance for a save.

To add insult to injury, Marshall is credited with a "hold" instead of being awarded another "blown save."