10/11/2003 3:52 AM ET
Bullpen saves the day for Cubs
Remlinger picks up his first postseason save
MIAMI -- Chicago Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger has tasted postseason success before. Now, he knows the flavor of the save.
Remlinger recorded his first save in a Cubs uniform after pitching a scoreless 11th inning after the Cubs scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th on a Doug Glanville pinch-hit, RBI triple.
The Cubs bullpen got the job done with Joe Borowski picking up the win and Remlinger the save as the Cubs downed the Florida Marlins, 5-4, in 11 innings at Pro Player Stadium in Game 3 of the NLCS.
In an inning that was do or die for Chicago, Remlinger kept his cool and stayed true to his game plan. He said he had a sixth sense he was going to have a big game Friday.
"Today was kind of weird for me," he said. "I knew I had a kind of calm about me from the time the game started. I knew I was going to pitch. I didn't know when, I didn't know what situation it was gonna be. But I really just felt that I was gonna pitch and how if I did was gonna be the difference in the game."
The left-hander notched his first postseason career save after pitching 18 1/3 postseason innings with the Braves from 1999-2002 and one with the Cubs in 2003. Remlinger had 16 saves in 33 chances for his career, but none in the postseason, and it was his first since joining the Cubs as a free agent this offseason, but it did not come without a little drama.
Remlinger got leadoff man Juan Pierre to ground out to short before Luis Castillo struck out, but reached on a wild pitch after catcher Paul Bako could not handle the pitch in the dirt. After Ivan Rodriguez walked, the game ended when third baseman Aramis Ramirez misplayed a grounder and tagged Castillo out to the end the game.
Over three postseason games with the Cubs, Remlinger had worked one scoreless inning. His most crucial moment before Friday's save was inheriting a bases-loaded jam in Game 1 of the NLDS and inducing Chipper Jones to ground out.
Remlinger, 37, was limited in his postseason success with the Braves, compiling a 0-2 record with a 4.42 ERA. But with seven years in the big leagues behind him, Remlinger has a philosophical approach to big-game playoff situations.
"It's not looking at it from the perspective that this it and if you don't do it, the game is over," he said. "It's more do what I'm used to doing. Stay in the moment and stay focused and don't let the other stuff get ahead of you."
He picked up everyday closer Joe Borowski, who threw 41 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings to pick up the win. Borowski said even if he has to roll the ball to the plate Saturday, he will be available.
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com
"As good as I felt, I could have gone as long as they needed me," Borowski said. "The last inning, compared to the two before, I just felt so comfortable out there."
Kyle Farnsworth also pitched one inning of relief, striking out Derrek Lee with two out in relief of starter Kerry Wood. After facing three batters in the eighth, Farnsworth exited in favor of Borowski with two outs. Borowski served up the game-tying double to Todd Hollandsworth before getting Mike Lowell to fly out to deep right field to end the inning.
Borowski faced five batters in the ninth with the game tied, 4-4, and three in the 10th. He said he felt even better after throwing the first two innings.
"I actually felt better as I kept throwing," he said. "When I first came in, I was strong and I was overthrowing a little too much. But as I kept throwing, I started getting more and more relaxed and into my regular game plan. I was able to throw more strikes and get ahead of people."
Borowski's longest outing this year was the second game of the season, when he threw three innings in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets. The 32-year-old closer recorded 33 saves in 37 chances during the regular season.
He got the save in Game 1 of the NLDS against Atlanta, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. After holding the Cubs' 5-1 lead in the decisive Game 5 to advance to the NLCS, Borowski was riding high.
In Game 1 on Tuesday, Borowksi served up a two-RBI double to Ivan Rodriguez in the ninth. Although the Cubs tied the game on Sammy Sosa's two-out homer in the bottom of the frame, they lost, 9-8, in 11 innings.
Borowski faced 10 batters over two innings in that outing. Friday night, he faced 11.
The Cubs bullpen has combined for a 3.04 ERA in the postseason, compiling a 1-2 record with two saves. Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Friday's effort was impressive by his relief pitchers.
"They were real big," Baker said. "Farnsworth came in and got some big outs. Joe went deep in the ballgame -- he pitched longer than he's pitched in the regular season. And then Mike Remlinger came in and did the job. It was an outstanding job by everybody on the team."
Remlinger gave all the credit to Borowski, however.
"He pitched awesome," he said. "Joe deserves as much credit as anybody. For him to go out there and ... that's been him all year though. He is all heart and a lot of ability. What he did doesn't surprise anybody in here. He's been rock-solid for us all year."
Borowski, never one to bask in the limelight, is taking a matter-of-fact attitude toward his performance. Like the blue-collar pitcher that he is, he said he did not want to take a day off.
"I will definitely pitch tomorrow if need be," he said, shrugged off any thoughts of tiredness. "Whatever I have to do, I'll be out there somehow. Going 11 innings and winning is so huge. Staying out there for 11 innings, it makes it a little easier when you are on the winning side."
The Cubs are hoping momentum stays on their side as they head into Game 4 with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.