The Cubs still have a fine bullpen, including right-handed setup men Bobby Howry and Kerry Wood, lefty Scott Eyre, closer Ryan Dempster and Marmol. And it's not as though Marmol is suddenly rendered ineffective by one outing. But if the Snakes have a read on how to attack Marmol, one key trump card for Piniella becomes less valuable.
And it's possible that they have just such a read. Counting Wednesday's playoff game, Arizona players are a combined 10-for-30 against Marmol. Conor Jackson, who hit a sacrifice fly in Game 1, has a 4-for-6 regular-season mark against him. Chris Snyder, who walked, has homered off Marmol before. It's a very small sample size, but you'd rather go into a game 10-for-30 than 2-for-30.
"When they get in that position in the game, with Howry and [Marmol], similar to us with [Tony] Pena and [Brandon] Lyon, they feel pretty good about it," said manager Bob Melvin. "And looking at the numbers, rightly so. So it's nice to be able to get to somebody that they expect to go out and put up zeroes."
Marmol had two problems that compounded one another on Wednesday, and perhaps therein lies a secret for the Diamondbacks. He opened the seventh inning by permitting a home run to Mark Reynolds on a fastball. Having resolved that the fastball might not be his best option, he threw more sliders, and he simply couldn't get the breaking ball over for a strike.
When a two-pitch pitcher loses confidence in one pitch and can't get the other over the plate, that's a bad combination. Marmol will have to throw his slider, in particular, for strikes as the series goes forward.
"Personally, for me, as a right-handed hitter, I'm not even looking fastball," said Jackson. "There's a couple of guys in their bullpen that are 50-50, slider-fastball. In a situation like that, if you're looking heater, you'll be fooled. Especially after Reynolds hit his fastball out, going up there with two guys in scoring position I'm really looking offspeed. Especially with a base open."