Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blew his 3rd game in his last 5 save chances, as the Cubs opened their big 7-game west coast road trip with a costly 4-1 loss to the Padres in San Diego. Ted Lilly, John Grabow and Carlos Marmol kept the Padres offense scoreless for a good 2 hours and 15 minutes on Monday night, but in only took Kevin Gregg about 10 minutes to lose the game for the Cubs. David Eckstein drew a 1-out walk off of Gregg and came around with the tying run 2 batters later when Chase Headley doubled to left center. Pinella and Gregg intentionally walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to get to 22-year old Kyle Blanks, but the move back-fired when Blanks crushed a walk-off 3-run home run to deep left center field that gave the Padres the 4-1 win. Brutal – just brutal.
Gregg is just not a good closer. In limited time as a closer last year – he blew 9 SAVES! for the Marlins. Gregg has blown 6 total saves during the 2009 MLB schedule and already 3 in the month of August. Gregg has a 4.47 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP and he only has 58 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. It is clear that Gregg does not have what it takes to be a closer, and Pinella indicated that he will likely make some changes in the back-end of the rotation. Finally!!!
There were some positives from Monday’s game. Ted Lilly came off the DL and looked phenomenal. Lilly threw 6 scoreless innings (70 efficient pitches), allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk. Lilly struck out 4. John Grabow and Carlos Marmol set the table for Gregg with perfect 7th and 8th innings. Derrek Lee had 2 hits and scored the Cubs lone run. Aramis Ramirez was back in the Cubs lineup as the clean-up hitter, and he had 2 hits including the lone RBI that drove in Lee.
The bad news – the Cardinals rallied against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, so the Cubs now trail the Cards by 6 games in the NL Central race. Gregg’s blown save also cost the Cubs a chance to pick up a 1/2 game on the idle Rockies in the NL wild card race. Ryan Dempster looks to get the Cubs back on track in San Diego as he takes on Cesar Carrillo. Carrillo gave up 8 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks (including 3 HR’s) in his major league debut on August 13th. If the Cubs can’t find a way to generate runs off of this guy, they might as well just cash it in now and save us all a lot of time.