Desperately in need of stringing together wins to stay in the NL Central race, the Chicago Cubs’ seven-game road trip could not have started much worse. It was such a disappointment, manager Lou Piniella is considering changing the team’s closer.
The Cubs try to put a devastating loss behind them and avoid falling further out of the postseason picture when they play the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth in Monday’s series opener, Chicago (60-56) appeared to be on the verge of winning its third straight. But in a scene that’s become all too familiar for the Cubs, closer Kevin Gregg(notes) fell apart, blowing his third save in five opportunities this month.
One out away from securing the win, Gregg gave up a game-tying double to Chase Headley(notes). After Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) was intentionally walked, Gregg served up a three-run homer to rookie Kyle Blanks(notes) as the Cubs lost 4-1 to fall a season-worst six games back of division-leading St. Louis.
Chicago led the Cardinals by percentage points Aug. 4 but has dropped eight of 11 since.
Piniella said Monday’s defeat was among the Cubs’ toughest this year, hinting Gregg would possibly be removed as the team’s closer.
“I think we are going to make some changes as far as what we’re going to do late innings,” said Piniella, who added that he’d say more on the subject Tuesday. “We’ll see what we do. I’m going to think about it tonight.”
In 56 1-3 innings, Gregg has surrendered 12 homers—the most in the majors amongst relievers.
“The bottom line is getting people out,” said Gregg, who has six blown saves in 29 opportunities. “It doesn’t matter how you do it. I could throw underhand. If they get out, I don’t care.”
Dempster allowed six runs and eight hits while striking out eight in seven innings of a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, the third time in four starts since coming off the disabled list he yielded at least five runs.
The right-hander was 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts before getting injured.
Dempster hopes to get things turned around against one of his favorite opponents.
He gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings of an 11-3 win over the Padres on May 14, improving to 7-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 10 starts against them.
San Diego’s four-game losing streak ended with Blanks’ dramatic homer to the left-center seats Monday.
“I’ll take it,” said Blanks, batting .417 with four doubles in his last six games. “The part of the park I hit it to is pretty big out there. I was definitely hoping for it. When I saw it go out, I was definitely relieved.”
After throwing a perfect first inning against Milwaukee on Thursday, things quickly unraveled for Carrillo. The right-hander gave up eight runs and four hits - three home runs - while walking two and hitting two in 2 1-3 innings of a 12-9 loss.