Stripped of closing duties last week following back-to-back ugly appearances, Carlos Marmol returned to the mound last night and successfully pitched the ninth inning of a 6-1 victory for the Cubs.
However, it wasn’t exactly a flawless appearance, as Marmol walked two of the five batters he faced and threw just 15 of 29 pitches for strikes.
The good news is that he got swinging strikeouts on both Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. after the right-hander with the best single-season strikeout rate in MLB history whiffed zero batters in his previous six games.
After the game Marmol talked about studying video of his mechanics with pitching coach Mark Riggins, saying: “I feel great right now.”
His return to the closer role will have to wait, however, as manager Mike Quade indicated that it’ll take more than one scoreless but walk-filled outing to reclaim ninth-inning duties from Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood.
Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.
Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.
Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.
Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.
Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.
“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”