Cubs have cause for concern after another blown save from Alzolay

This was one of those days at Wrigley Field when it seemed like no hitter would be able to knock one out of the park with a strong breeze blowing straight in from left field.

Then someone did, at the worst possible time for the Cubs.

Miami's Bryan De La Cruz hit a rocket into the left-field bleachers against Adbert Alzolay with one out in the top of the ninth, giving the Marlins a 3-2 victory over the Cubs in Game 1 of a doubleheader Saturday.

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Héctor Neris reacts after striking out Miami Marlins pinch-hitter Nick Gordon for the final out in the second baseball game of a doubleheader Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Chicago. The Cubs won 5-3. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) AP

The Cubs won Game 2 by a 5-3 score for a doubleheader split.

“I'm not going to say he called it, but he kind of called it,” Miami manager Skip Schumaker said after the game. “We were going to pinch-run for him and he said, 'You won't need a pinch-runner.'”

For the Cubs, there's reason to worry about their closer. Last season, Alzolay had just 3 blown saves. This game was his fourth of 2024.

This was also his fourth home run allowed in 10 appearances. Alzolay had trouble with giving up the long ball earlier in his career, when he was primarily a starter, but he surrendered just 5 home runs in 58 appearances last season.

“You can certainly point to execution, it's a 2-0 count there and he just got too much of the plate with a fastball,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said.

Counsell didn't discuss the possibility of putting someone new in the closer's role, but obviously everything is under consideration.

“Throughout the course of the season, it has to be different guys on different days,” Counsell said. “We need Adbert to get outs. Regardless of where it is, we need Adbert to be an effective member of the bullpen, and I strongly believe that he will be. We need outs.”

Alzolay entered the game in the eighth inning, after Mark Leiter Jr. gave up a pair of two-out singles. Alzolay walked the first batter to load the bases, then retired Vidal Brujan on line out to Alexander Canario in left field.

In the ninth Alzolay retired the leadoff hitter before a Luis Arraez single set the stage for De La Cruz's home run.

Cubs starter Javier Assad worked 4⅔ innings, throwing 87 pitches. He left the game after loading the bases, then allowed the Marlins' first run of the game on a sacrifice fly. Luke Little, the Cubs' roster addition for the doubleheader, came in and struck out Jazz Chisolm to end the threat.

The Cubs scored their runs in the third inning on a 2-run triple off the wall in right-center field by Patrick Wisdom.

In the bottom of the ninth, Mike Tauchman and Nick Madrigal both singled, then were bunted to second and third by Miguel Amaya. With the Marlins infield playing in, Canario struck out. Nico Hoerner then ended the game with a groundout to first.

Miami starter Jesus Luzardo entered the contest with a 7.65 ERA, while the Marlins sported a 4-16 record. But Luzardo completed 6 innings with just 3 hits allowed.

“We know he's a dude and he's acting like a dude,” Schumaker said. “I don't know it was the last couple of starts, but that's more the ace we're used to.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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