Sunday night, the Cubs tasted the bitter taste of the fruits of their labor. Actually, it is probably better to make that the fruits of their inactivity.
For the second game in a row, Kevin Gregg allowed the Florida Marlins to erase a Cubs lead in the ninth inning. On Saturday, the ineffective closer allowed three runs, but was saved from defeat by Derrek Lee’s 10th inning heroics. For that, Gregg “earned” a win.
On Sunday evening Gregg surrendered back-to-back home runs to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross on consecutive pitches. The chance for a savior this time was nonexistent.
And don’t forget Carlos Marmol’s meltdown on Friday.
The slow leak that was the bullpen problem is now a full-fledged gusher into the hull of the sinking ship that is the Cubs season.
July was the Cubs’ month. There was too much talent on the roster to go on struggling below .500 all season. The team showed flashes of the squad that everyone expected at the beginning of the season. However, it was more about finally being healthy than perfect play.
Then the calendar turned to August.
The brief respite from a packed DL was over, and the season went back to normal. The norm being a bullpen more fearful for the Cubs than the opposition.
The nagging lack of a closer who can actually shut down the game, Carlos Marmol’s control problems continuing to get worse, and the merry-go-round of faces down the third-base line have all been highlighted over the past three nights.
While the team was rocketing up the standings during July, all it did was mask the problems that the Cubs should have been solving before the trade deadline.
As the St. Louis Cardinals overhauled their line-up to prepare for the run to the playoffs, the Cubs stayed pat. Now they have to hope for a savior on the waiver wire, or that Toronto Blue Jays castoff B.J. Ryan finds a glimmer of his former self again.
All this because Jim Hendry sat on the sidelines. Sure, the Cubs participated in the fire sale that the Pirates held, but they did nothing to add a dependable arm to help finish the final third of a game.
So, while the Cards race away with Ryan Franklin consistently shutting down the opposition, the Cubs will soldier on with their problem children.
There is always a chance that Marmol will find last year’s form again, or that Gregg will start to resemble the hurler that the Cubs chose to bet their fate on.
Those chances are running out though, and after Sunday, after three straight disappointing outings, the future is definitely looking dim.