Hits the game winning home run
But then, bottom ninth ...
In a reversal of fortunes, it wasn't the Cubs who blew a 2-run lead to lose on Thursday night . They fell behind 3-1 after 2 innings, but scored on 2 doubles in the fourth. a Nate Schierholtz home run off the right field foul pole in the 6th, and Valbena's game winner in the 9th. Carlos Marmol managed a save, and the Cubs won by a score of 4-3.
Carlos Marmol let 2 men reach base in the bottom of the ninth before Wellington Castillo did a great job handling a Juan Pierre bunt to cut down the lead runner at third for the inning's first out. Then a fly ball to center was handled by David DeJesus and Marmol struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end the game. As Len Kasper said, "Carlos Marmol does what he used to do - put two men on to start the inning and then he gets out of it." Yeah, great.
But, back to that first out in the ninth. We came awfully close to seeing the Cubs blow another game with a poor defensive play. You'll want to skip ahead to about the 2 minute mark and watch for about 10 seconds after you click here for the MLB game highlight video (the powers that be still don't understand that it would be good for them if we were allowed to embed their videos). You can go back and watch the whole thing (some pretty good defensive plays) but pay particular attention from 2:00 until 2:10.
Did you see that? Did you see Valbuena struggling to find third base for the force out after taking a great throw from Castillo? I know he was backing up from his bunt position, but it would have been much less stressful if his foot was on the bag BEFORE taking the throw. Thank goodness he didn't drop the ball while looking down to find the base or been a split second later getting touching third. Instead of two on and one out it would have been bases loaded with nobody out and the Cubs up by a single run.
With our Marmol on the mound - and the great bullpen available to Dale Sveum - that would have almost certainly turned out badly.
Maybe I'm being too tough on Valbuena - he did, after all, hit the game winning home run in the top of the ninth. But still ... for a moment there I saw the game slipping away once again.
Tonight, the Cubs will try for two in a row against the worst team in baseball. First pitch is at 6:10.
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