Colorful images on smartphone radars made it look like it was going to keep raining for several hours and the teams wouldn't resume play. So I took the opportunity to leave Wrigley Field during the delay. (Looks like that was the right call, given the continued rain and the result of the game. Didn't look like more than a few hundred people stayed till the end.)
It's too bad the umpires didn't make that decision -- in fact, when the game eventually was resumed, it continued to rain at a moderate pace -- because we got Bad Carlos Marmol Saturday afternoon and he gave up a grand slam to his former teammate Derrek Lee with two out in the ninth inning. That gave the Pirates a 7-5 win over the Cubs. Maybe D-Lee was miffed with Marmol for putting him on the DL when he hit him in Pittsburgh just after the Pirates acquired him.
The game started in hot and humid conditions and rain appeared on the horizon but it appeared that it would hold off until the game could be finished. Then a strong storm cell popped up right over Wrigley and the seventh inning was played in a fairly steady downpour until play was finally stopped with Tyler Colvin at bat and two runs already in.
Casey Coleman wasn't really sharp -- he threw 53 strikes in 88 total pitches -- but managed to post his second straight good outing, two runs allowed in six innings. He struck out six. Again, if Coleman can keep posting starts like this, he could be a useful fifth starter for the 2012 Cubs.
Kerry Wood had given the Pirates a run to tie the game after the Cubs had taken a 3-2 lead. Wood's velocity looked pretty good, but some of his outings just aren't sharp. This was one of them. At times, he looks like the Wood of 2008 (or of the second half of 2010 with the Yankees). At other times, he looks done. It's hard to say who the real Wood is at this point. I'd love to see him come back next year and be a solid setup man, but the proverbial jury's still out on that.
Alfonso Soriano drove in four runs Saturday; that gives him 72 for the year. It is sobering to think that with just eight more -- entirely doable -- he'd have the biggest RBI total of his five-year Cubs career. Sure, he was a leadoff hitter much of that time, but he drove in 90+ as mostly a leadoff hitter for each of the five years before that. He's been injured, of course, much of his Cubs career. He won't make it to 140 games played this year. It would still be nice if the Cubs could find an AL team that could take him as a DH and even offset part of the $54 million Soriano is owed.
About Marmol, I really don't know what to say. He's having a bad year. His ERA blew up to 4.26, really awful for a closer, and the three walks gave him 39 in 63.1 innings -- increasing his WHIP to 1.389, much higher than the excellent 1.135 he had in 2010. He's allowed four home runs this year, which doesn't seem like a lot until you note that he gave up just one all of last year, and also that all four of the home runs have directly lost games. Two of them were three-run homers, two of them grand slams. In addition to today:
- May 31 vs. the Astros, three-run homer by Hunter Pence in the ninth inning, Cubs lost 7-3 after having a 3-1 lead going into the inning.
- July 8 vs. the Pirates, three-run homer by Michael McKenry, broke a 4-4 tie, Pirates won 7-4.
- August 16 vs. the Astros, walkoff grand slam by Brian Bogusevic, Astros won 6-5.
Apart from the fact that all four of these home runs were hit by players on bad teams, there's no way a good closer can do this and still be effective. Either someone has to figure out how to fix Marmol, or the Cubs need to deal him and find some other closer -- maybe Chris Carpenter?
Finally, I wanted to say a few words about the signing of farm director Oneri Fleita to a four-year contract extension, already being discussed in this FanShot. The reaction from most of the blogosphere seems to be: "ZOMG Ricketts, how could he do this to the new GM, Fleita wasn't going anywhere anyway!"
Step back for a second and think about this. Do you think that perhaps Tom Ricketts already has a GM hire in mind? And maybe he ran this move by one or more of the candidates and that GM candidate has already signed off on it? About the comments in the FanShot, the one about not using technology is well taken. Perhaps the new GM can institute such a system -- that doesn't have to be dictated by Fleita.
It's the kind of thing that has to have something else behind it other than a knee-jerk "everything the Cubs do is wrong" reaction. While Fleita may not be everyone here's idea of the best director of player development, I know for a fact that he is well-respected in the business.
And I have to believe there's more to this than we know.
In the meantime, winning a game might be nice. The Cubs can finish the season series with the Pirates with a split by winning tomorrow... when, at last, it will have stopped raining.