After starting the season with 4 straight games in which the opposing team scored a run while Kevin Gregg was on the mound, Gregg has looked like a new pitcher since making his Cubs debut at Wrigley Field. On opening day at Wrigley Field, Gregg came into the game in a non-save situation in the 9th inning. Despite giving up a walk, Gregg struck out the side to preserve the Cubs opening day win against the Rockies.
Over the weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals, Manager Lou Pinella opted to go with Carlos Marmol to close out Friday’s 8-7 come from behind win. Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs the 8-7 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning with a 2-run home run. Since Marmol, not Gregg, had been warming up at the time since the Cubs were trailing 8-7, Pinella elected to stick with Marmol instead of trying to get Gregg to warm up quickly. Marmol got the job done and recorded his 2nd save of the season.
The next day, however, when Marmol gave up the tying run to the Cards in the 8th inning (after quelling a Cards rally against Neal Cotts in the 7th inning), Pinella called on Gregg to get the Cubs out of Marmol’s jam. And boy did Gregg respond. Gregg struck out Joe Thurston and Colby Rasmus and then got Skip Schumaker to ground out to end the inning. Pinella also relied upon Gregg to work a scoreless 9th inning – retiring the heart of the Cards lineup – Rick Ankiel, Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick – in order.
This is a good sign for Pinella, the Cubs and Cubs fans all across the country. Pinella had already started using Marmol way too much this year. With Gregg emerging as a reliable reliever, that will make Pinella’s life a lot easier. With Marmol and Gregg being ready to pitch the Cubs out of any jam, that should take a lot of the pressure off other Cubs relievers and hopefully mean good things for the Cubs in 2009. Plus, Gregg cherishes the atmosphere at Wrigley Field: “I love it. The fans are into the game. There’s an intensity in the air that you can’t explain.”