Cubs putting closer hopes in Marmol

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gregg_090818.jpgThink the Cubs miss Kerry Wood?

Lou Piniella, having finally grown tired of the 9th-inning adventure that is Kevin Gregg, demoted his baffled reliever from the closer’s role, putting wild-and-crazy Carlos Marmol in that spot instead.

The move comes one day after Gregg blew his sixth save of the season (in 29 tries), this time against the Padres. Says Piniella, via AP:

“We needed to try a different approach. We have been patient, if you want to use that word. But we’ve lost some tough, tough ball games.”

The new approach, apparently, will be to let Marmol put a lot of runners on base, then hope that he wriggles out of jams.

Marmol, who has saved a whopping 50 percent of his eight save opportunities, has walked 52 batters in 56 1/3 innings this season. He has also hit 11 batters (that leads the league), and allowed 31 hits, for a WHIP of 1.473.

Piniella also considered using Angel Guzman or John Grabow in that role. Grabow has allowed only two hits as a Cub, but in the tiny sample size of 5 2/3 innings. Guzman has a 2.42 ERA, but has given up six home runs.

There is no perfect answer for Piniella and the Cubs, and in truth, the way the Cardinals are playing, it might not matter anyway.

If you Twitter, and you can save a game once in awhile, feel free to follow me at @Bharks.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.