[The Cubs new pitching coach, Hotei Rothschild, just moved up from AAA Iowa.]
Barack Obama isn’t the only one sending cold shivers down the spines of complacent millionaires these days, as Lou Piniella sat high-profile closer Kevin Gregg down and called in Carlos Marmol to finish last night’s 2nd Act agin the Brewers. Gregg’s recent outtings have only helped Marmol’s cause, not to mention two recent late inning Cub losses to Houston and Friday to the Brewers (five walks it took for them to win! 5!). Considering the 2-run HR lotto ticket Soriano handed Piniella in the top of the 9th (above), I can see how he didn’t care to trust this series to anyone in need of Kerry Wood-era daily affirmations. Kerry Wood’s unquestioned status as the 2008 closer galled me as much I’m sure it did Marmol (no, actually, I’m sure it was worse for me). Seeing Marmol come in last night I thought, finally, Piniella’s shifting from Power of Positive Thinking hand-holding to a Ditka-like no-tolerance for losing. Post-game, Lou revealed it was actually a deeply philosophical and religious Buddhist move and reassured Cub fans Kevin Gregg that Kevin Gregg is still the closer. As the Herald‘s Bruce Miles reports, it’s all about karma:
Just a couple of innings earlier, Piniella was summoning the karma a day after his bullpen walked five Brewers.
During Saturday’s seventh, Piniella watched as relievers Angel Guzman and Neal Cotts combined to walk three batters as the Brewers scored twice to take a 5-3 lead. Piniella look so disgusted after Cotts walked Fielder to load the bases that he waved pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the mound to remove Cotts in favor of Aaron Heilman.
Heilman (1-0) got a groundball, but it went for a 2-run single. Otherwise, he did his job.
“I sent Larry out to take the last pitcher out just to change the karma,” Piniella said. “My handoff wasn’t good. We were fumbling it. So is said, ‘Larry, go change the karma.’ “
The Cubs got a fourth-inning home run from Kosuke Fukudome and another solo shot from Aramis Ramirez in the eighth. That was in addition to 6 innings of work by starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano. In the top of the ninth, pinch hitter Reed Johnson singled with one out. The Cubs pinch ran with the speedy Joey Gathright to get pitcher Carlos Villanueva to rush his delivery. Soriano did his part by crushing a changeup well over the wall in left.
“I said to myself, ‘Just swing at strikes,’ because when I swing at strikes, I make good swings at the ball,” Soriano said. “When I swing at strikes, I hit the ball very hard.”