Game Sixty-Seven – Cubs 3, Mets 4
WP – Bobby Parnell (5-3) LP – Carlos Marmol (2-4, BS 3) Save – None
The Cubs could not complete their first sweep in New York since 1991 after leading the game all afternoon and taking a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning. With Kevin Gregg unavailable, Dale Sveum used Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning … and within five minutes of Marmol taking the hill, the Mets walked off the Cubs with a three-run homer off the bat of Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
At this point, the front office has no choice but to cut ties with Carlos Marmol. He simply cannot get outs, regardless of the situation he is put in. While Marmol might have had a somewhat successful run (four outings without giving up a run), Sunday was the second time since June 1 that Marmol has given up four runs in a third of an inning. In his last seven appearances dating back to June 1, Marmol has allowed nine runs on eight hits, three home runs, with seven walks and 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings (14.31 ERA and a 2.65 WHIP).
Carlos Marmol was charged with his third blown save of the season when Kirk Nieuwenhuis became the third player in Marmol’s career to hit a walk-off home run.
The Mets won a game started by Jeremy Hefner for just the second time this season (2-11) after trailing over the first eight innings. While the offense managed only seven singles and one run scoring hit, the Cubs and Matt Garza did just enough to complete the sweep, especially after the Mets did everything they could to give the Cubs the game.
Matt Garza was effective on Sunday. And while he did not have his best stuff and made several mistakes that the Mets could not take advantage of, Garza still got the job done and kept the Mets off the board for seven innings. Garza allowed only three hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out five. Garza threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes, before turning the game over to James Russell.
James Russell did his job with a perfect eighth inning before Marmol happened in the ninth.
The offense managed only seven hits, all singles, and wasted chances early on to break the game open. The Cubs were not able to tack on and finished the game 1-for-8 with RISP while leaving six runners on base. The Cubs inability to hit with runners in scoring position did not hurt them on Saturday but a two day total of 4-for-26 with RISP and 22 men left on base is alarming, even for a team building for the future.
Luis Valbuena (2-for-4 with a run scored) had a good day hitting in the leadoff spot for the first time this season and Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a run scored) picked up his second multi-hit game in four days. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in the Cubs’ first run with a single in the first inning and hit the ball that started the wacky play in the fifth inning that the Cubs’ scored two runs on thanks to two Mets’ errors.
With Sunday’s loss (3-8 on Sundays in 2013), the Cubs dropped back to 11 games under .500 with a 28-39 mark on the season …
The Cubs jumped on Jeremy Hefner in the first inning, but like Saturday, the feeling was it should have been more. Luis Valbuena led off the game with a single to right (0-1 pitch). Starlin Castro followed with a single to left (1-0 pitch) and the Cubs had two on with no outs. Schierholtz pulled a 2-1 pitch toward first. Murphy fielded the ball and threw to second to force Castro but the Mets could not complete the double play.
Alfonso Soriano stepped in with runners on first and third with one down. Soriano lashed a 2-2 pitch into left. Valbuena trotted home, 1-0 Cubs. With runners on first and second and one out, Rizzo popped a 2-1 pitch into shallow left. Hefner then struck out Navarro swinging to end the inning. Hefner threw 20 pitches, 13 for strikes, in the first frame.
Matt Garza worked around a two-out double by David Wright in the Mets’ first without allowing the tying run to score. Garza needed 10 pitches, six for strikes, to complete the first inning on Sunday.
The Cubs wasted another scoring chance in the third inning. Valbuena led off with a single to right. Castro rolled into a 6-4 fielder’s choice and took over at first base after the Mets could not complete another double play. Nate Schierholtz singled to left and the Cubs had two on with one down again. Hefner struck out Soriano and Rizzo swinging to end the inning.
After three at bats, the Cubs were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, left four men on base and struck out five times.
Garza made quick work of the Mets in the third … and after three complete, the Cubs led 1-0.
The game remained 1-0 Cubs until the fifth.
Jeremy Hefner retired Garza on a grounder to second and Valbuena on a pop out to third for the first two outs in the fifth. Starlin Castro lined a hanging breaking ball into left for a two-out single. Nate Schierholtz worked a walk. With runners on first and second with two down, Soriano pulled a 1-2 pitch toward the hole between second and third. David Wright made a sensational diving stop to his left, got to his feet, and checked second before airmailing a throw to first. David Bell sent Castro to the plate. Daniel Murphy’s throw was wide of the plate. John Buck could not catch the ball. His glove came off and Schierholtz rounded third and slid in safe with the Cubs’ third run after the ball got away again. Soriano ended up at third as the ball got away for the fourth time but was stranded when Rizzo tapped back to the third base side of the mound to end the inning. The Cubs scored a pair of runs on two charged Mets’ errors.
Matt Garza worked around a leadoff double by Lucas Duda and a two-out walk to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the fifth and kept the Mets off the board.
Starlin Castro committed his 10th error of the season (tied with Alexei Ramirez for the most errors by a shortstop) to start the Mets’ sixth after Carlos Torres retired the Cubs in order in the top half. Castro fielded the routine grounder off the bat of Valdespin then threw wide of first. Garza walked Daniel Murphy on four pitches.
David Wright stepped in with two on, no outs and the Mets down by three. Wright just missed a homer to left. Soriano caught the deep fly and threw toward third, instead of second base. Valdespin made it easily to third and Murphy moved up ninety feet on the Cubs’ second miscue in three batters. To Garza’s credit, he refocused and struck out both Byrd and Duda swinging to end the inning. Garza threw 91 pitches, 53 for strikes, over six innings.
The game remained 3-0 Cubs through the seventh. Garza kept the Mets off the board in the home half after giving up a leadoff single to John Buck. Garza needed 107 pitches, 64 for strikes, to complete seven innings on Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs could not tack on in the eighth or ninth innings and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs up 3-0.
Carlos Marmol was given the ninth because Kevin Gregg was unavailable after pitching in four straight games. Marmol served up a solo homer to Marlon Byrd that cut the Cubs’ lead to 3-1 … then it got very ugly in a hurry.
Marmol walked Lucas Duda (3-2 pitch), gave up a single to right (2-2 pitch) to John Buck. Omar Quintanilla bunted Duda and Buck to second and third with one out.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis stepped in and smoked a 1-0 pitch from Marmol off the Subway sign on the second deck beyond the right field wall … game over.
The Cubs begin a very difficult four-game series in St. Louis on Monday night … Travis Wood faces Shelby Miller in the opener.