Only 20,696 fans — the smallest crowd in 11 seasons at Wrigley Field — witnessed Donnie Murphy’s latest late-inning heroics.
And after hitting a two-run, game-winning home run Wednesday to beat the Marlins 9-7, Murphy admitted he’s thinking about his future with the Cubs.
“It’s to that point where I’m starting to think about it a little more,” said Murphy, who has hit nine home runs in 98 at-bats with the Cubs. “But I don’t want to get too far ahead and start thinking one thing, start thinking too much and maybe affect my play in the field.”
Security would be huge to Murphy, 30, who is playing for his fourth major league team but has been hindered in the past by injuries.
Murphy, who can play three infield positions, is batting .392 with six home runs in 28 at-bats in the seventh inning and later.
He had an inkling that he would get a first-pitch sinker from Ryan Webb.
“I got the luxury of playing with those guys (2010-12), so I know that guy is a sinkerball guy,” Murphy said. “I didn’t want to get beat with his sinker, so I looked for it.”
This marked the smallest crowd at Wrigley since Sept. 26, 2002, when 20,032 fans watched the Cubs and Reds.
“That’s what it is,” manager Dale Sveum said of the small crowd. “I don’t have any comments on it.”
Struggling Samardzija: Jeff Samardzija escaped with no decision despite allowing two home runs, including a grand slam to Adeiny Hechavarria in the sixth that wiped out a 3-2 lead.
“It comes down to fastball command,” Sveum said. “And if he can’t keep the fastball down and keep it on the glove side down, you’re going to give up slugging percentage and things like that.”
Samardzija has allowed 11 runs in his last two starts stemming largely from late-inning rallies.
Before Hechavarria’s slam, a young fan was struck by a bat that flew off the hands of Giancarlo Stanton. The fan was carried to an exit by an adult but returned the next inning. Samardzija witnessed the incident but said his concentration wasn’t affected.
“He’ll have a good story for the rest of his life,” Samardzija said. “He took a bat to the face and walked away from it. That was weird to see.”
Roster relief: Sveum is in favor of some form of roster restrictions, especially after learning the Cubs and Marlins had 22 relievers available for Tuesday’s game as the result of 25-man rosters being expanded Sunday.
“I do think there needs to be a cap on it,” Sveum said. “There needs to be some way of how they want to work it, a certain amount of relievers, a certain among of position players.
“It gets to the point where teams can call up so many guys and mix and match and do things that another team might not have called up as many guys and counter the moves.”
Sveum would be in favor of a roster limitation similar to one employed by the NHL.
To make room for pitchers Chang-Yong Lim and Daniel Bard, outfielder Cole Gillespie and reliever Michael Bowden were designated for assignment.
“That’s part of the game,” said Bowden, a former Waubonsie Valley High standout who was 1-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 34 relief appearances. “I got to pitch but wasn’t necessarily happy with my performance. But I’ve been through this a few times before and I’m sure I’ll be through it again. Hopefully not.
“I love playing here. I love playing for the city of Chicago, the fans and my hometown team. You know what? God has something else in store for me.”