Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blew a 4-run lead to the Astros in the 9th inning Saturday afternoon after a stellar performance by rookie Randy Wells as he sought his first big-league victory. The first two batters of the ninth went yard and the first 5 men reached base. As manager Lou Pinella headed back to the dugout after saving Gregg from himself, he stopped to address a fans’ concern:
"“He wasn’t very happy I kept Gregg in the game for as long as I did,” the manager said. “And I told him just to please enjoy the game and let me manage … in a little stronger words than that.”"
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that exchange. I’m sure sweet Lou lit that guy up after he had to pull his closer from a non-save situation.
"“In Gregg’s defense, he hasn’t pitched in a few days and then a closer has [a different] mentality for saves,” Piniella said. “But he needed to work even if the score was 8-0.”"
Alfonso Soriano saved the day in the bottom of the 9th as he poked a single to right field to drive home Bobby Scales with the winning run. Scales scored the winning run despite going hitless for the first time in his six game big-league career. Micah Hoffpauir chipped in with a 2-run homer to open up a 3-0 lead.
With guys like Wells, Hoffpauir and Scales making surprise contributions, it is certainly helping to keep the Cubs in what is turning out to be an interesting NL Central race. Here’s my question: why do we never head of these guys before they made the big club? It’s refreshing to have minor leaguers coming up and contributing unlike the overhyped and underperforming likes of the Felix Pies and Corey Pattersons of the world.