Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011Posted: 5:00 p.m. Updated: 6:15 p.m.
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ST. LOUIS It made you wonder if Carlos Zambrano was watching at home, chilling on the couch and talking at the screen, mumbling some version of I told you so.
In a season full of rock-bottom moments, one of the most memorable came here inside the visiting clubhouse at Busch Stadium. Zambrano looked around the room, glanced over at Carlos Marmols locker and delivered his classic We stinks rant.
Zambrano called this a Triple-A team on June 5 after Marmol blew the save. Zambrano will almost certainly never throw another pitch for the Cubs. And at this point, theres only so much they can get worked up over with four days left in the season.
But the next general manager will have to reassess the closer situation in 2012.
Again, Marmol couldnt preserve a one-run lead and finish off the Cardinals in the ninth inning. With a 2-1 comeback victory on Saturday combined with Atlantas loss in Washington St. Louis (87-71) kept its flickering hopes for a wild card alive, two games back with four to play.
When Jim Hendry rewarded Marmol with a three-year, 20 million deal at the start of spring training, the Cubs (70-88) thought they were getting someone whod be a foundation piece on a contender.
No one else in the majors has blown more saves than Marmol (10). The 28-year-old closer has the worst save percentage in the National League (34-for-44; 77 percent).
It goes back to stuff weve talked about all year mechanics, manager Mike Quade said. (He) just wasnt consistent with (the fastball) or his slider. Its a tough nut when youre trying to protect a one-run lead and youre struggling with both pitches.
We need to get it straightened out. All we need to do is get him back to where he was the last few years. And he will.
This one unraveled quickly. Marmol got two outs before loading the bases for Ryan Theriot, a hitter so undisciplined that Lou Piniella used to joke about how he would go from the Kentucky Derby to the Belmont without a walk in between (and hope the Cubs wouldnt have to wait until the Arlington Million before the next one).
Remember how Zambrano called out Marmols pitch selection last time? (We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good fastball hitter.) The ex-Cub didnt swing once during a six-pitch at-bat, forcing in the tying run when Marmol walked the third consecutive batter.
Moments later, Marmol uncorked a wild pitch, and it was game over.
I know theyre taking a lot of pitches, Marmol said. All I have to do is throw strikes.
It ruined six shutout innings from Rodrigo Lopez, an emergency starter who began the year pitching for Atlantas Triple-A affiliate and finishes it with a 6-6 record and a 4.42 ERA.
The 35-year-old right-hander, whos about to become a free agent, took several pictures before Wednesdays final home game at Wrigley Field, so he can show his grandkids that he played there.
We have to wait until we have a new general manager, Lopez said. If it was (up to) me, it would be 100 percent coming back here. (But) right now I guess everythings up in the air.
The same goes for almost every player on this roster.
The next head of baseball operations could look at Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija and figure they have the stuff to close. Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood have done the job before. Marmol will have to impress the new boss.
I dont like the year that I had, Marmol said. Hopefully, next years a better year.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.