Well, the shoe finally dropped. And in San Diego, of all places ...
- The Kevin Gregg era ended late Monday night in San Diego, where a four-run ninth inning led to the loss of his closer's job.
Manager Lou Piniella said he would make the change on Tuesday, but declined to say who would fill the role the rest of the season.
"Of course," he said. "Two outs, you're right there. You're one pitch away from getting out of that inning."
After falling behind to Chase Headley, Gregg gave up the game-tying double into the gap in left-center. Piniella ordered an intentional walk to Kevin Kouzmanoff, before Kyle Blanks hit the game-ending, three-run home run over the left field fence.
Gregg says he hasn't lost his confidence.
"Yeah, I still believe in my stuff," he said.
But Piniella no longer believes in it enough to give Gregg the ball in the ninth inning with the game on the line. Gregg's 12 home runs allowed are the most of any NL reliever. Brad Lidge ranks second with 10 allowed.
If it's not completely obvious who the new closer will be, then why have one? If he doesn't trust control-challenged Carlos Marmol, then why not give some save chances to righty Angel Guzman and lefty Sean Marshall, both of whom have a history of competence as relievers?
Lou Piniella's been a fine, fine manager for a long, long time. But it's at this point -- with Gregg giving up too many homers and Marmol giving up too many walks -- that Piniella needs to come up with something a little more creative than usual. The Cubs are locked up in a five-team race for one playoff spot, and they're the fifth team. This isn't the time for conventional thinking.