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.

Sean Manaea pitches the first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.