Brewers-Cubs game postponed because of bad weather
The way their closers were struggling, Cubs manager Dale Sveum and the Brewers' Ron Roenicke could probably feel each other's pain.
Both cut the cord this week.
In Chicago, that meant Carlos Marmol was out as closer. In Milwaukee, it was John Axford getting, well, axed.
And on Wednesday, everyone was getting a breather.
The game between the Cubs and Brewers was postponed due to inclement weather, with the makeup scheduled for July 30 as part of a day-night doubleheader.
Scott Feldman, scheduled to start for the Cubs, will pitch Thursday against the San Francisco Giants. With the Brewers off Thursday, Kyle Lohse got pushed back two days and will start against his former team when the Brewers open a weekend series at St. Louis on Friday.
The postponement came on the heels of the Cubs beating Milwaukee 6-3 Tuesday on a night when the game-time temperature was 39 degrees and a steady wind blew through Wrigley Field.
The conditions were no better Wednesday, so the game got called off. Considering the way they've been struggling, a breather might not be such a bad thing for these teams.
Both have losing records, with the Brewers at 2-6 and the Cubs 3-5, and it's been particularly tough for the closers, with Marmol and Axford getting roughed up in the early going.
''(With) Ax it's different because if you put a closer out there and he starts poorly at the beginning of the season, you lose ballgames,'' Roenicke said. ''Say (Ryan) Braun, who's our best hitter, starts the season and he's just bad for two weeks and he's not helping us win games - nobody says anything about him losing games for us.
''There's something about that closer being in that role that everybody panics and says, `Well, you have to do something.' Nobody ever says anything about doing something about the regulars that start out the season slow other than, `Hey, you need to get going.'''
Even so, Roenicke decided to make a switch to Jim Henderson on Monday and it wasn't hard to see why. Axford's allowed nine runs in 3 1-3 innings with a blown save, and the rough start comes after a 2012 season that was shaky at best.
Yes, he finished with 35 saves and converted 17 of his final 18 opportunities, but he also blew a major league-leading nine opportunities a year ago and had a 4.67 ERA.
Marmol was so erratic last season that the Cubs tried to trade him in the offseason to the Los Angeles Angels for Dan Haren. When that deal fell through, they brought Kyuji Fujikawa in from Japan.
Whatever Marmol's role is now, Sveum isn't putting any labels on it. He insisted Marmol working the eighth in Tuesday's win over the Brewers wasn't a sign he's going to be the primary setup man. It had more to do with Shawn Camp being limited because of a heavy workload.
''He's just not going to be the closer,'' Sveum said. ''The other roles are just kind of going to be what they are.''
Marmol did allow a two-out triple to Jean Segura but retired Yuniesky Betancourt on a grounder to short to end that threat.
It was a better night for him than it was for Axford, who allowed three runs and took the loss. He came in with the game tied in the seventh and got the final out, but he left with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Roenicke would have preferred not to use him late in a tight game but the situation forced his hand.
''Things change because of the way guys pitch and how the game goes,'' Roenicke said.
Notes: Roenicke said his back is improving after he spent part of Tuesday at a Chicago hospital because he was in pain. ''I'm better, not 100 percent. I'm better,'' he said. Roenicke's had back pain in the past and it usually lasted just a few days. He's hoping that's the case this time. ... Sveum said 2B Darwin Barney will play Saturday, Sunday and Monday on a rehab assignment. He's on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee laceration. ... Asked what he'll do with the night off, Sveum responded: ''Sleep.''