CINCINNATI -- Michael Bowden became the fifth different pitcher to blow a save for the Chicago Cubs in their 5-4, 13-inning loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday -- and this one happened in dramatic fashion.
“The whole team battled for 13 innings and we lose it like that,” a dejected Bowden said afterwards. “It’s the worst feeling. You let the entire team down.”
Bowden was pitching his second inning in relief after Luis Valbuena homered in the top of the inning to give the Cubs a 4-2 advantage. But Bowden gave it right back when Jay Bruce doubled home two runs and then Cesar Izturis brought Bruce home with the winner.
“I threw too many pitches over the plate,” Bowden said.
“I threw a slider, caught too much of the plate and he hit it,” Russell said.
Stop me if you’ve heard all this before. Russell and Bowden were the culprits on Monday but the Cubs have had a host of relievers come up short. Carlos Marmol lost his closer’s job, followed by a badly blown save by Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa went on the disabled list the next day. Shawn Camp has been balking runners all over the place -- he had another one on Monday -- while Kameron Loe and Kevin Gregg are just getting started.
In fairness, Marmol has found a groove, going his last seven appearances, including two innings on Monday, without giving up a run. And Bowden had pitched well before his 13th inning implosion. But the Cubs bullpen just can’t seem to get it all together at once.
“We couldn’t make any pitches,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We couldn’t get ground balls. Had the first guy 0-2 and he gets a hit and it kind of snowballed after that.”
That’s the story of the Cubs’ season. One small thing snowballs into something bigger. If it’s not the defense, it’s the bullpen.
“It was one of those ball games… we were that close but I couldn’t finish it,” Bowden said. “It’s a few things here and there. One bad pitch, one bad at-bat. It’s tough.”
“The ball was in the air a long time,” Sveum said.
Sveum chose not to walk Bruce with the tying runs on second and third with one out in the final inning and a right-hander on deck.
“I didn’t want to put the winning run on first base,” Sveum explained.
Marmol likes how he’s throwing the ball now.
“My fastball and slider feel great right now,” he said.