Rapid Reaction: Nationals 7, Cubs 4
April, 7, 2012
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals rallied for five runs in the eighth inning for a 7-4 victory as the Chicago Cubs dropped to 0-2 on the season.
How it happened: For the second consecutive game, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol combined to cough up a lead and give away a victory. Trying to protect a two-run lead in the eighth inning Saturday, Wood gave up a two-out home run to Danny Espinosa and two singles. Marmol followed by giving up a walk, a two-run single and an RBI double.
What it means: The bullpen was a known weakness, but the Cubs figured to at least get a little time to get it together. Instead it has blown leads in consecutive games and wasted strong starts from Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza in the process. Not only do Wood and Marmol not look sharp, but there aren’t a lot of options to use in their places. Rafael Dolis, who pitched a perfect seventh inning, has limited experience but could be the best option late in games until things get sorted out through performance or personnel change.
Outside the box: Talk is cheap. Body language showed just how much Garza has invested in this season. The only two runs he allowed Saturday in his first start of the season came on a two-run home run from Adam LaRoche that looked as if it dented the foul pole in right. After the half inning, Garza appeared to shout and flex his muscles in anger. He could then be seen pacing up and down in the dugout. Interesting fact: Garza has taken over Carlos Zambrano's old locker in the clubhouse.
Off beat: It might have been a mild winter, but it still looked as if there was ice out on the mound. Garza either slipped or retreated to the dirt no less than three times. The first time he appeared to misjudge the speed of a comebacker and stumbled. The second time he hit the deck on a line drive up the middle and the third his wheels were spinning on a sacrifice bunt back to the mound.
Up next: Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija will take the mound Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. The Nationals will counter with right-hander Jordan Zimmerman in the 1:20 p.m. CST start from Wrigley Field.