The Reds came into the weekend series at Wrigley having suffered back to back series losses to the Nationals and Cardinals. After taking two of three in Cincinnati, the Reds came to Chicago having won their last six games at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs, who had hung with the 2012 NL Central champs in all three games at Great American Ballpark, were looking to improve from a disappointing four game split with the Padres at Wrigley earlier in the week.
The Cubs scored a minimum of four runs in each of the three games in the series. Other than the two homer game by Alfonso Soriano that accounted for all four runs in the middle game of the set, the Cubs were able to produce runs without relying on the long ball. Anthony Rizzo showed signs of heating up after a slow start that drew demotion comments from his manager. Rizzo went 5 for 12 in this series with four runs scored, being a productive member of the middle of the line up in ways other than his team leading eight home runs entering the weekend. The string of hits is actually a continuation from the Padres series and by the end of Cinco de Mayo, Rizzo was sporting a six game hitting streak that saw his season batting average boosted from .202 a week ago to .246.
Despite a little more consistent run production from the Cubs offense, the pitching staff as a whole could not contain the deep Reds line up. The visitors scored 19 runs to the Cubs 13 in the series, producing enough offense to sweep the series. Again, it comes down to clutch hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP) and the Reds certainly made the most of their hits, as both clubs finished the series with 26 safeties a piece.
Carlos Marmol, already demoted from his closer’s job, cost the Cubs a win on Saturday with a pair of walks and a hit batter. The mechanically wild and inconsistent righty just can’t seem to get things straight at the moment and is even becoming a liability as a set up man. Things will have really hit rock bottom if the Cubs have to start using Marmol in mop up duty or prior to the seventh inning. For the sake of both the Cubs long term picture and Marmol’s career, here is hoping he gets his mind and mechanics sorted out soon. Unfortunately that process will involve him continuously being trotted out to the mound, but the team really has no choice this early in May.