A day after closer Aroldis Chapman blew his first save with the Cubs, manager Joe Maddon was alerted to the fact that the four-out save opportunity isn’t a favorite of Chapman’s.
“I didn’t know that,” Maddon said Sunday, smiling. “Not that it would matter, but I didn’t know that. I was not aware of that.”
Chapman entered Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Mariners with two outs and two on after starter Jake Arrieta walked the first two batters in the eighth inning with the Cubs’ leading 1-0. Chapman entered after reliever and former closer Hector Rondon protected the slim lead by inducing a fielder’s choice that led to Kris Bryant throwing out the game-tying run at the plate.
That’s when Maddon turned to Chapman to close out the eighth inning and then likely pitch the ninth with the Cubs still leading.
Instead, Chapman gave up a two-run double to Leonys Martin.
After blowing the save, Chapman was asked about being asked to pitch in the eighth inning.
“It’s not my favorite thing to do, but that’s my job,” Chapman said through interpreter/reliever Pedro Strop. “It’s the manager’s job to (put) me out in that situation and I’m just ready to do anything.”
Maddon said had he not used Chapman in the spot and another reliever would have surrendered the lead, the decision not to turn to the newly acquired fireballer would not have set well with him.
Even though Chapman is primarily used to pitch the ninth inning and take advantage of a fastball that has been clocked as fast as 105 mph, Maddon felt it was appropriate that Chapman attempt to close out the game with four outs left.
“I was looking for no contact,” Maddon said Sunday. “(Martin) got a hit, but Chapman did nothing wrong.”
The Marlins visit Wrigley Field for a three-game series starting Monday with Ichiro Suzuki still two hits shy of 3,000. Ichiro’s last hit came July 28 against the Cardinals. He went 0-1 in a pinch-hitting role on Sunday.
Mariners’ radio play-by-play announcer Rick Rizzs spent 11 years calling games when Suzuki was in Seattle. Rizzs said Sunday that the milestone should secure a place in the Hall of Fame for Suzuki. But he added that reaching the 3,000-hit plateau at Wrigley would add to the moment.
“It would be something special because there’s so much history here,” Rizzs said. “And Ichiro understands the history of major league baseball.”
Maddon saw Suzuki up close during his coaching and managing tenures with the Angels and Rays and got to know him better before one of the 10 straight All-Star Game appearances Suzuki made between 2001-10.
“He gave me bats and I gave him bottles of wine,” Maddon said. “I think that’s somewhat unfair for him.
“He’s (hit) on two different worlds. He’s been the best hitter in both places…what he’s done and what he’s doing is pretty remarkable.”
Kyle Hendricks, who will start for the Cubs Monday, can appreciate the historic nature of the accomplishment. But he said on Sunday that he would rather not be the one who gives up No. 3,000.
“We’re out there competing, but if something happens and he ends up getting the hits this series off me or any of our guys — obviously it’s one hell of an accomplishment and something not many guys do,” Hendricks said. “To see it in person, I’d probably enjoy it even if it was against us.”
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