Hisanori Takahashi

Gregor Blanco

Giants overcome 5-0 deficit to beat Cubs


After falling behind 5-0 in the third, the Giants scored seven times in the fourth and fifth innings on their way to beating the Cubs 7-6 on Thursday.

Second baseman Nick Noonan went 3-for-5 and scored twice in his first big-league start. He was filling in while Marco Scutaro rested today.

Meanwhile, Bruce Bochy’s Midas touch has carried over into the 2013 season. He let starter Ryan Vogelsong hit in the top of the fifth today with the bases loaded, one out and the Giants down 5-4. Vogelsong, of course, worked a walk against Hisanori Takahashi, forcing in a run and opening the door for the Giants to score twice more.

Vogelsong went on to pitch two more scoreless innings and pick up his first win of the year. Scott Feldman, hampered by some atrocious Cubs defense, allowed six runs — two earned — in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.

Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save. He has more saves than 23 teams do wins.

Cubs survive another Carlos Marmol scare, beat Pirates 3-2

Carlos Marmol

After Carlos Marmol’s shaky showing got him pulled from a save chance on Opening Day, the Cubs reiterated that he was still their closer.

Marmol, though, wasted no time in putting that to the test. Handed another 3-0 lead on Wednesday — thanks to a Nate Schierholtz homer providing two insurance runs in the top of the ninth — Marmol gave up a single, a walk and back-to-back RBI singles before finishing off the Pirates.

Manager Dale Sveum used both James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa in relief of Marmol to close out a 3-1 game Monday, but the two fallbacks had already worked today, giving Marmol more rope than he likely otherwise would have received. Sveum did get Hisanori Takahashi up after the first run scored, but he stuck with Marmol after a visit to the mound from Chris Bosio.

Marmol escaped the jam by striking out Pedro Alvarez and inducing a double-play ball from Neil Walker. Both at-bats were pretty awful. Alvarez fanned on three pitches, the last being a slider in the dirt. Walker reached for a fastball that was outside and a bit high and, instead of going with it, tried to pull it. The result was an easy 4-6-3.

The problem for Marmol right now is that his slider isn’t diving like it once did. As a two-pitch pitcher with no command, he’s always relied on getting swings and misses on his slider. And right now, the pitch often isn’t tempting enough to chase. The Cubs can’t keep turning late leads over to him while he looks like this. Walker’s grounder may have bought Marmol a little more time to figure things out, but it’s obvious that Fujikawa is the guy the Cubs should be turning to in the ninth.

Hisanori Takahashi agrees to minor league deal with Cubs

Hisanori Takahashi Getty
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According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Cubs have agreed to sign left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to a minor league contract. The deal includes an invite to spring training.

Takahashi posted a lousy 5.54 ERA over 51 relief appearances this season between the Angels and Pirates. However, he compiled solid secondary numbers, including a 52/14 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings.

Takahashi had a 3.44 ERA with the Angels in 2011 and a 3.61 ERA with the Mets during his first season stateside in 2010, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him win a bullpen spot. The southpaw turns 38 in April.