Hector Rondon blows save pitching in 4th consecutive game
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter May 21, 2014 10:47PM
Updated: June 24, 2014 7:46AM
The Cubs’ rebuilt bullpen can’t close out games, and $4 million demoted closer Jose Veras still hasn’t provided any late-inning answers.
It has been an implosive combination for a team with 22 games decided by two runs or fewer and might be why first-year manager Rick Renteria has tended to go with hot hands for stretches.
On Wednesday, he used de facto closer Hector Rondon for the fourth consecutive game (over five days), less than 18 hours after needing him for the last two batters of a 6-1 victory against the Yankees under heavy rain.
Rondon loaded the bases with two singles and a walk before the two runs that tied the game scored on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. It was the Cubs’ sixth blown save in 12 chances.
“He was OK,” Renteria said. “He still had a very low pitch count [Tuesday] night, even though it was a little moist. There was no concern for us with the outing from the night before at all. He was the right guy at the time for us today.”
Starter Jeff Samardzija, who lost another would-be win with the blown save, said he sympathized with Rondon as a former reliever himself.
“I understand how hard it is to do that,” Samardzija said, “to go out every day, especially when you pitched the night before in a long game in bad weather, and to come back in a day game the next day and do it again. It’s tough to do. Hec’s young. . . . He’s got amazing stuff, and he’s got a great demeanor to be a closer. He’s going to be outstanding.”
Renteria had little choice by the 13th inning but to use Veras, who quickly lost his closer role in early April and looked no better Wednesday. “I don’t want to compare it to previous [struggles],” Renteria said, “because he’s had a couple of outings for us where he did a nice job [since returning from an oblique injury last week]. . . . But we’ll continue to see where we’re at.”
◆ Through Tuesday, top prospect Javy Baez had a five-game hitting streak, during which he was 7-for-19 (.368) with four extra-base hits, including a home run. In his 28 previous games, he was 15-for-106 (.142) with five extra-base hits.