PITTSBURGH -- Somewhere Chicago Cubs reliever Michael Bowden must be shaking his head. Bowden was designated for assignment -- to make room for the return of Matt Garza -- on the same day current reliever Shawn Camp gave up a grand slam to pinch hitter Travis Snider in the sixth inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night.
Camp’s ERA is 7.56 after blowing his third save of the season.
“The ball was just up,” Camp said afterwards. “It was just up, that’s what happens. Gotta work down. That’s it.”
The Cubs now have 10 blown saves and many have come after a stellar performance by a starter. Garza gave up just one hit over five scoreless innings, but the bullpen melted down again. Before the grand slam, usually reliable lefty James Russell walked in a run with the bases loaded.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Russell said. “Didn’t make the quality pitches I needed to. Usually I come in pounding the zone with my slider and today I didn’t.”
But it’s Camp who will draw the most criticism. Manager Dale Sveum says his velocity is down and his change up is up -- as in up in the zone. He’s been getting hit all year.
“We’re not going to talk about pitches, pitch selection, stuff like that,” a frustrated Camp said when asked about his change up. “It’s irrelevant.”
Camp was then asked what his issues are compared to last year when he was more reliable, leading the league with 80 appearances.
“Sometimes you go in these ruts,” he responded. “You just have to get your way out of them
“I don’t know what to say about it. I get the guy out in front of him, if he (Snider) pops the ball up no one is talking about it.”
Whatever the problems with Camp, he’s not the only one struggling. Hector Rondon began the fateful sixth inning but couldn’t finish it. Then came Russell and Camp’s issues.
“Seven weeks into the season to have 10 blown saves and losing games that you have in the bag,” Sveum said, shaking his head.
And what about Bowden? He’ll end up in the minors or somewhere else despite a 3.78 ERA. Was he the right choice to designate?
Sveum was asked why Bowden over Camp.
“[Camp] can get righties out with his sweeping slider,” Sveum said. “He’s durable. He can pitch. That’s why.”