In today’s series finale against the Mets, Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol allowed four runs and recorded just one out in the ninth inning as the Mets stormed from a 3-0 deficit to walk off as 4-3 winners. Cubs starter Matt Garza pitched brilliantly over seven innings and James Russell tossed a perfect eighth to bring the 3-0 lead to Marmol in the ninth. Closer Kevin Gregg was unavailable as a result of pitching four games in a row.
Marmol started off on the wrong foot, surrendering a lead-off home run to Marlon Byrd. He then walked Lucas Duda and surrendered a single to John Buck. Omar Quintanilla successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position for the recently-recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis. After getting ahead 1-0, Nieuwenhuis turned on a 94 MPH fastball for a walk-off three-run home run.
Marmol entered the game with a 4.78 ERA, but it ballooned to 6.08 after today’s outing. As the 30-year-old is a free agent after the season and the Cubs are 15 games out of first place, they are ostensibly continuing to use him in high-leverage situations to build up his trade value. Marmol’s strikeout rate, however, has dropped to its lowest point since his rookie season in 2006 and his tightrope act doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.