Cubs' bullpen continues to have its issues

June, 9, 2012
6/09/12
12:09
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Save situations come along so infrequently for the Cubs that it appears nobody knows what to do with them.

Other than a James Russell save on May 29, the last Cubs reliever to close down a victory was the long-departed Rafael Dolis, who got his last save on May 14.

Shawn Camp let one slip from his grasp against the Twins on Friday. The Cubs took a one-run lead on a two-run home run in the eighth inning from Alfonso Soriano, but Camp gave up one run in the ninth inning that allowed the Twins to tie the game and another in the 10th that cost a chance at a victory.

In both innings Camp let the leadoff man aboard.

“I just didn’t so my job,” Camp said. “Some things happened and unfortunately that one lies on me. The offense did great. I feel like I have been pretty consistent but tonight I ran into a situation when I didn’t make pitches when I needed to.”

That’s not entirely true. After a Justin Morneau triple tied the game in the ninth inning with nobody out, Camp stranded the winning run at third base. At one point, he was helped by five-man infield alignment.

The Cubs tried to use the five-man setup again in the 10th inning to no avail.

Since the middle of April, manager Dale Sveum has been mixing and matching the roles for his relievers, but, in a lot of ways he still doesn’t know what he has down in the bullpen.

“It’s a little hard to grab hold of a role when you don’t get to many save opportunities or setup situations,” Sveum said, making it clear that he has not given up on his guys. “That’s a little difficult to judge anything on when they don’t come up very often.”

Known as creatures of habit who like to know their roles, relievers are a rare breed. But these days a Cubs lead in the final inning could be protected by Camp, James Russell or even Casey Coleman.

But Camp, for one, isn’t about to complain about the uncertainty.

“The way I look at it, the ninth inning is just like the sixth,” said Camp, who has a 2.84 this season even with the two runs Friday. “There is no different thought process in my mind. I keep going back to just having to attack guys and get them out. I was told a long time ago that the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth is the same; you have oget guys out and you have to get that first guy out.”

Camp is now 0-for-2 in save situations this season and 10-of-24 in his career.

The Cubs entered play Friday with the fourth worse bullpen ERA at 4.20 and had the most walks with 97.

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jake Arrieta
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.65 157 149
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .292
HRA. Rizzo 31
RBIA. Rizzo 74
RA. Rizzo 86
OPSA. Rizzo .894
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 157