No answer yet to the closer question for Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 7, 2013 11:11PM
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Kevin Gregg delivers during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tuesday, May 7, 2013, in Chicago. The Cubs won 2-1. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:44AM
As impressive as Travis Wood looked for the Cubs on Tuesday night, get a load of Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg against the first-place Cardinals.
The embattled Marmol in particular bounced back again to get the job done well enough – despite a bloop hit and a walk in the eighth – to help Wood get a 2-1 victory over streaking St. Louis.
That’s two in a row for Marmol after Saturday’s Carlos-classic meltdown.
Manager Dale Sveum saved the hyperbole for Wood -- “the best starter in baseball pretty much” – after the lefty’s seventh impressive start in as many turns.
But the Marmol hold and Gregg save underscore the hunger the Cubs have to late-inning reliability – something that could get a boost with Kyuji Fujikawa’s return from the disabled list.
Fujikawa (elbow) had a rehab appearance rained out Tuesday, but he’s expected to pitch today for AA Tennessee, then be activated and join the club Friday in Washington.
Meanwhile, a Cubs team that entered the day a miserable 8-for-16 in save chances could only look with envy at how the Cardinals seem to have easily covered the loss of injured closer Jason Motte (elbow) with Edwin Mujica.
Mujica had six saves in his life before going 8-for-8 the last three weeks.
“We were looking to answer the same question there the first couple weeks,’’ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “[Mitchell] Boggs was having trouble, and we’d just lost Motte. … Fortunately, one guy stepped up. That’s usually what it comes down to, somebody taking advantage of the opportunity.”
Third baseman Ian Stewart has gone from minor-league rehab player to $2 million bench player for the AAA Iowa Cubs – and could be on his way out altogether.
Stewart, who was activated from the DL Friday and officially optioned to Iowa (where he’d been rehabbing), has been on the bench the past two games while Josh Vitters started.
This after Stewart surprisingly used his 72-hour reporting rights to leave the team for three days upon receiving the news – and ticking off the team that stuck with him long enough to likely get nothing for its $2 million dice roll.
Asked if Luis Valbuena is producing because he feels more like an everyday player, Sveum said, “I hope so, because is an everyday player. Obviously, there’s a little bit of a platoon [with Cody Ransom] going on, but I would never have any problem really playing him every day. … He’s one of the most productive third basemen in the game right now.”
The day after Scott Feldman left his start in the eighth inning because of cramping in his index finger, Sveum said the right-hander was fine.
◆ Sveum could have used Thursday’s off day to move struggling Edwin Jackson back three days in the rotation, but he said he won’t juggle his starting order. Jackson is scheduled to make his next start Saturday.