Sveum vows to stick with Marmol at closer

CHICAGO – Despite a second blown save for Carlos Marmol, Cubs manager Dale Sveum emphatically said Tuesday night that he will not be changing his closer.

“He’ll be out there closing tomorrow too,” Sveum said.

Marmol was brought in during the eighth inning, asked to get four outs and preserve the Cubs’ 1-0 lead. But the first batter he faced, the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday crushed a 2-2 slider into the first row of bleacher seats in left-center field for a two-run home run.

Marmol then walked Carlos Beltran, threw a pickoff throw down the right-field line to send Beltran to third base and finally got David Freese on a fly ball to right field to end the half inning.

“He had been pitching good,” Sveum said. “To me, that was the case of a 2-2 slider that one of the strongest guys in baseball hit for a home run. Did he do anything wrong or whatever? No, it was just a guy on the other side of the fence making a lot of money that does that quite often.”

The first-year manager is clearly doing everything he can to not turn his back on a struggling player in a time of need. With three weeks not even elapsed in the season, he isn’t going to announce that he has lost confidence in a team veteran.

But Marmol’s struggles date back further than his first three save chances of the season. Even the save he did record on April 8 was a rocky one.

James Russell threw an impressive 1-2-3 10th inning to set himself up for the victory and could be a closer option, as well as Rafael Dolis, who got the first two outs of the eighth inning before Marmol replaced him and let it get away. But their day will have to wait.

Now the question is whether or not Marmol has any confidence remaining to turn things around.

“I think he’s been throwing the ball well,” Sveum said. “I haven’t seen it on video and I don’t know what kind of depth [the slider to Holliday] had on it but the bottom line is that Holliday is one of the best strike breaking-ball hitters in all of baseball. He could have easily popped it up too.”

Not only does Sveum still have Marmol’s back, so do his teammates, who put together a late rally to cover for his gaffe. Bryan LaHair tied it with a ninth-inning home run and Alfonso Soriano won it with a rocket RBI single through the infield in the 10th inning.

Now it all depends on how Marmol returns the favor.