The Chicago Cubs called off their series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday long before first pitch. A combination of freezing temperatures with a forecast of storms made it an easy call.
"Last night (Tuesday) was about as tough as it was going to get, tonight probably would have been where you couldn't even function out there," manager Dale Sveum said after the game was postponed.
"I'm not sure if it's football weather."
Sveum won't alter his rotation so Scott Feldman, Carlos Villaneuva, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson will pitch against the world champion San Francisco Giants beginning Thursday if the weather holds up. The forecast for the next couple of days isn't much better.
"I don't think you ever get used to that kind of cold," Sveum said. "The wind separates this place from everywhere else."
For just the second time this season -- and first time with a lead -- the Cubs' bullpen pitched a clean final three innings in their 6-3 win over the Brewers on Tuesday. It's didn't come without any drama, however, as new closer Kyuji Fujikawa put two base runners on in the ninth, allowing the tying run to come to the plate.
"For the most part those last three outs, it's going to be interesting," Sveum said on Wednesday. "It's just the way the game is. Hitters start concentrating more especially in that last inning. I've always said it, wherever I've been, that tying run will get to the plate. It's amazing how that happens."
Sveum mentioned Mariano Rivera and Dennis Eckersley as a couple of closers who have had plenty of "1-2-3 innings" but there aren't many of those in the game. It's probably the reason Carlos Marmol was given some leash in his former role. Marmol wasn't demoted until it actually cost the Cubs a game last weekend in Atlanta. Getting into trouble is one thing, as long as you get out of it. Fujikawa did that, Marmol did not.
Fujikawa got Jonathan Lucroy to pop out to end the game On Tuesday actually making a winner of Marmol who pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
"That's going to be (Shawn) Camp's and (James) Russell's (role)," Sveum said. "He (Marmol) is just not going to be the closer. The other roles are going to be just what they are."
Camp pitched an extended inning the day before so wasn't available on Tuesday giving Marmol the chance in a 3-3 game.
Rizzo's big hit:
Anthony Rizzo hit his first double of the season in Tuesday's seventh inning, tying the game with a shot down the right field line. It came off lefty reliever Michael Gonzalez, "raising" Rizzo's average to .185.
"Hopefully, it's huge," Sveum said. "He hasn't been hitting with a lot of confidence, let alone off lefties and to do it on a breaking ball was even better. The way he stayed on it and stayed with it. Those things a lot of times springboard you into getting hot."
Plan vs. southpaws:
The Cubs won't face another left-handed starting pitcher until Saturday when Madison Bumgarner of the Giants takes the mound. So far this season, in two games against lefties, Sveum has only started one left-handed bat in Rizzo. After facing so many southpaws in spring training some regulars who bat from that side fear getting rusty.
"That's the tough part about it," outfielder Davis DeJesus said. "Staying sharp."
Right fielder and left-handed hitter Nate Schierholtz has an idea to help the lefties on the team.
"That's where it comes into play in batting practice," Schierholtz said. "It helps if the team carries a left-handed guy that can throw to the lefties. That's helped me in the past."
Schierholtz said former Giant Barry Bonds had his own "personal" left-handed batting practice pitcher. On days when the Giants faced a southpaw he would pitch batting practice to the entire team. Schierholtz said he wouldn't mind if the Cubs did that as well. Bullpen coach Lester Strode is left-handed and said he would be willing to pitch to Schierholtz or anyone else. It might keep the lefties in the lineup.
"I want my name in the lineup every day," DeJesus said. "But I understand we have to get everyone at-bats. If they do their job I'm happy. We need to win ballgames."
Schierholtz, hitting .304 this season overall, is a career .282 hitter off lefties and .299 off lefty starters. He said he doesn't need to remind Sveum he can hit left-handed pitching.
"We spoke about it before I signed here," Schierholtz said.