Geovany Soto has had a wonderful 2008 season, and it seems likely he will be rewarded for it with a starting berth on the National League All-Star team. In Wednesday night's game at San Francisco, he contributed a two-out, two-run hit in the seventh inning that gave the Cubs a three-run lead, which seemed to seal Ryan Dempster's first road victory of the season. (More on that in a moment.)
In addition to being heralded for his offensive prowess—a 128 OPS+, 13 HR, and 48 RBI coming into Wedneday's game—Soto has been applauded for his work behind the plate and for the maturity he has demonstrated in handling the Cubs' mostly veteran pitching staff.
The low point for the Cubs in Wednesday night's game, however, occurred when Soto got back behind the plate as the Giants batted immediately after Soto's two-run single. Carlos Marmol, who entered the contest with a 7.36 ERA since June 1st, fanned the first two hitters in the frame. He then fell behind pinch-hitter Travis Denker 2-0 on sliders and eventually walked him on an errant curveball. Leadoff man Freddie Lewis was next, and he rapped an 0-1 slider for a single to right field. Finally, veteran Ray Durham came up and Marmol threw him a fastball, but it was high and right over the plate and Durham buried it for the game-tying home run that left Dempster with a big, fat, disappointing ND.
On the Comcast broadcast of the game, Bob Brenly talked about how Marmol had "fallen in love with his slider," shaking off Soto when he called for one of Marmol's 90+ mph fastballs. (By the reckoning of mlb.com, nine of Marmol's 19 pitches were sliders, four were curveballs, and six were fastballs.)
Maybe as young Soto saw the inning starting to slip away, before Durham ever got to the plate, he should have called time, joined Marmol on the mound and said, "No, Carlos, don't shake me off anymore." (For his part, Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild didn't appear from the Cub dugout until after Durham had tied the game.)
The irony of all this, as you know if you watched the game, was that Mike Fontenot clubbed a long home run of his own in the visitors' half of the eighth inning, which gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead; a lead that Bob Howry and Kerry Wood protected, which in turn made a winning pitcher out of...Carlos Marmol.