The Cubs have too many veterans on their roster to start an old-fashioned youth movement, yet the future of the franchise was on full display Thursday during a doubleheader split with Arizona.
After rookie Carlos Marmol imploded in the first inning of a 10-2 loss in Game 1, fellow rookie Juan Mateo won the second 7-3 in his major-league debut while Matt Murton tied a big-league record with four doubles.
With Murton showing signs he can become a consistent run producerhe drove in five runs in the nightcapthe Cubs can at least cling to the hope the final two months will provide some glimpses of better days ahead. After hitting .212 in June with only one RBI, Murton has hit .408 since July 1 with 15 RBIs.
"It was a big day for Murt," manager Dusty Baker said. "He hit all kind of doubles. Hey, man, if you can spread it out all over the field like that, they don't know how to play you."
Murton became the fourth Cub to hit four doubles in a game and the first since Billy Williams did it against Philadelphia on April 9, 1969, at Wrigley Field. The major-league record has been accomplished numerous times, but Murton is appreciative that his name will be in the record book.
"It's a great honor," Murton said. "But you have to remember, as good a game as you can have, you have to forget those the way you forget the bad ones"
Murton's big day helped Mateo, who didn't look out of place coming out of Double A. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks in five innings. He even showed he had a little bit of Greg Maddux in him, making a bare-handed grab of a Luis Gonzalez shot up the middle and easily throwing him out in the third inning.
"Most of the time I do that," Mateo said through his translator, bullpen coach Juan Lopez. "It's just instinct on the mound."
In Game 1, Marmol (4-5) walked leadoff hitter Eric Byrnes in the first and served up a two-run homer to Gonzalez, which ignited a five-run inning that put the game out of reach. Former Cub Juan Cruz earned his first victory since June 1 with five innings of one-run ball. Cruz is now 2-0 against the Cubs this season with a 0.90 earned-run averageand 2-6 against everyone else with a 5.21 ERA.
Marmol allowed seven runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings, watching his ERA climb from 4.39 to 5.09. He's averaging 8.1 walks per nine innings in his 12 appearances, a stat that normally would earn him a demotion to the minors.
"We just have to settle that issue," Baker said. "That's the main thing haunting Carlos right nowleadoff walks, followed by a home run. He always has had trouble going out there early. He's a little too hyped up. That's what he talked to Pedro Martinez about, and some other guys, not going out there too overamped."
"The most difficult part is trying to get them to make pitches, stay out of the mistakes," Blanco said.