A Sweep Day for Travis Wood – Cubs 3, Astros 0

Game Seventy-Eight – Cubs 3, Astros 0
WP – Travis Wood (3-3) LP – Wandy Rodriguez (6-6) Save – Carlos Marmol (8)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs completed the three-game sweep over the Houston Astros and finished the homestand with a 5-1 record behind another impressive outing by Travis Wood … and Anthony Rizzo’s third game-winning RBI in five games.

Two years to the day that Travis Wood made his big league debut against the Cubs at Wrigley Field (July 1, 2010), Wood picked up his third straight win with 7 2/3 innings of three-hit, shutout ball. Wood did not allow a baserunner until the fifth inning and only one batter reached third base on the afternoon. Wood did an excellent job of pounding the strike zone (104 pitches, 71 for strikes), struck out four and did not walk a batter.

Travis Wood has completed at least seven innings of work in his last two starts and has completed at least six innings in each of his last four outings. Wood has not allowed a run in his last 19 innings.

Shawn Camp closed out the eighth and Carlos Marmol picked up his third save of the series with two strikeouts in the ninth. The Cubs’ staff shutout the Astros twice in the games after allowing 17 runs in the finale against the Mets.

Travis Wood not only did his job on the mound but he also notched the Cubs’ first extra basehit and scored the Cubs’ first run in the sixth. Wood doubled to left to start the sixth, advanced to third on a groundout to third then after an intentional walk to Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored), scored on a single to right off the bat of Anthony Rizzo.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) delivered his third game winning hit in five games. Rizzo pulled Wandy Rodriguez’s first pitch into right and plated Travis Wood. Rizzo scored the Cubs’ third and final run on a double by Jeff Baker (1-for-3, a double and two RBI).

The Cubs’ offense managed five hits and a walk off Wandy Rodriguez and finished the afternoon 2-for-5 with RISP and left three runners on base. Darwin Barney (1-for-3) collected one of the Cubs five hits and made several excellent defensive plays on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs completed their second three-game sweep of the season (Padres, May 28 – May 30) and equaled their season-high three-game winning streak with Sunday’s victory.

The Cubs improved to 29-49 on the season (6-7 on Sundays in 2012) with Sunday’s win over Houston …

After a bad storm in the Chicago area delayed the start of the game for 56 minutes, Travis Wood struck out Jose Altuve to begin the game then set down the Astros in order on 11 pitches, eight strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the bottom of the first. Wandy Rodriguez threw just nine pitches, eight strikes, in the opening frame.

Travis Wood retired Houston in order in the second … after two, Wood’s pitch count stood at 24, 16 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the second. Geovany Soto worked the Cubs’ first three-ball count and helped run up Rodriguez’s pitch count (21, 17 strikes).

Travis Wood struck out two (Bixler and Castro looking) of the three batters he faced in the third. Wood struck out three of the first nine batters he faced (35 pitches for Wood after three, 26 strikes).

After Darwin Barney hit a tapper back to the mound (2-2 pitch) to start the third, Luis Valbuena pulled a 0-1 pitch into right for a single … the first hit of the game. Travis Wood swung away and hit a deep drive to right that Bixler hauled in for the second out. Reed Johnson rolled over a 0-2 pitch to short to end the inning … just 36 pitches for Rodriguez after three, 30 for strikes.

Travis Wood set down the Astros in order in the fourth … 12 up, 12 down for Wood after four on 43 pitches, 31 strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth. Wandy Rodriguez threw only 49 pitches in the first four innings, 39 for strikes.

J.D. Martinez led off the fifth with the Astros’ first hit of the day. Martinez pulled a 2-2 pitch past Luis Valbuena into left field. Wood re-focused and retired Matt Downs on a pop out to short. Brian Bogusevic grounded out to second (2-2 pitch) and Martinez advanced to third on the play. Brian Bixler popped Wood’s 60th pitch of the game (41 strikes) to Barney to end the inning.

Geovany Soto (ground out to short) and Joe Mather (ground out to short) made two outs on three pitches to start the fifth. Darwin Barney ripped a 0-1 pitch into left … but was stranded when Luis Valbuena flied out to the track in right center (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. Brian Bixler had trouble with the sun and Brian Bogusevic ran over and caught the ball as the two outfielders gently collided … 62 pitches for Rodriguez after five, 49 for strikes.

Jason Castro struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to begin the sixth. Darwin Barney made an excellent running catch near the Astros’ pen to retire Rodriguez. Jose Altuve ripped a 1-1 pitch into right, just the second hit of the day for the Astros. Jed Lowrie flied out to right (1-2 pitch) to end the inning. Wood threw 78 pitches, 53 for strikes, over six innings.

Travis Wood led off the sixth with his third double of the season. Wood pulled Rodriguez’s first pitch down the left field line. Wood was the first Cub to reach second base on Sunday afternoon. Reed Johnson hit a routine grounder toward third (1-2 pitch). Matt Downs fielded the ball cleanly, looked at Wood and then threw to first for the out. Wood did an excellent job of running the bases. He held his ground when Downs looked at him then took off for third as soon as Downs released the ball. Wood slid in safe at third … Carlos Lee did not throw back across the diamond.

With the infield in and one down, Starlin Castro showed a lot of patience and did not offer at Rodriguez’s first three pitches. Rodriguez issued ball four intentionally and put runners on first and third with one out for Anthony Rizzo.

Anthony Rizzo ripped the first pitch he saw into right. Wood scored, Castro ended up at third and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Jeff Baker then pulled a 0-1 pitch into left. The ball rolled into the corner and J.D. Martinez had trouble getting a handle on it. Castro scored easily … and Rizzo lumbered all the way around from first on Baker’s double. Geovany Soto grounded out weakly to short and Mather grounded out to second to end the inning.

After six, the Cubs led 3-0.

Travis Wood made quick work of Houston in the seventh. Wood set down the side in order on just 12 pitches (90 pitches after seven for Wood, 61 for strikes).

The Cubs did nothing in the seventh against Wandy Rodriguez … and the game went into the eighth with the Cubs up 3-0.

Reed Johnson moved to right and David DeJesus took over in center to start the eighth. Wood retired Bogusevic on a grounder to third (1-2 pitch). Brian Bixler then reached on an infield single. Bixler hit a 3-2 pitch back up the middle that Barney fielded and made a strong throw to first. Anthony Rizzo did not stretch and Bixler was called safe … replays showed that Rizzo caught the ball just ahead of Bixler touching the base. Bixler reached on the Astros’ third hit of the game. Wood stayed in to face lefty Jason Castro. Castro flied out to center for the second out.

After Chris Snyder was announced as the pinch-hitter for Wandy Rodriguez, Dale Sveum made his way to the mound and went to the pen for Shawn Camp. Wood left the field to a nice ovation and tipped his cap in appreciation. Camp retired Snyder on a grounder to short.

The Cubs did nothing in the eighth against David Carpenter and Wesley Wright.

Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen and Tony Campana took over for DeJesus in center.

Carlos Marmol caught Jose Altuve looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out in the ninth. Jed Lowrie grounded out to first (2-2 pitch) but Carlos Lee ripped a 0-1 pitch into the gap in left center for a double. Marmol threw strike one to J.D. Martinez then dropped a 2-2 slider in that Martinez looked at to end the game.

Five out of six to complete the home schedule before the break … Dale Sveum’s team finished the first half with a 19-20 record at Wrigley Field.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs open a four-game series Monday night in Atlanta. Jeff Samardzija will face Tommy Hanson in game one.

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Quote of the Day

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  • GaryLeeT

    I like the fact that 2 of the 3 game winners from Rizzo, were against lefties. It also seems like Castro has relaxed, and doesn’t feel like he has to do it all.

    • BosephHeyden

      If this team wants to continue to improve, they need to bring up the guy below that Cubtex mentions. We have an opening at third, Vitters plays third and is on the 40 man, and he is playing well enough recently that he deserves a shot to see if he can do it in the bigs (not to mention it gives Rizzo a guy opposite him that he’s worked with recently). Valbuena’s nothing more than a bench guy, and we have control of Vitters just like we do Rizzo. Call him up so Rizzo doesn’t start feeling what Castro felt.

      • cubtex

        Vitters, Rizzo, and Castro are all 22 years of age. I mentioned this before…….but that could be 3/4 of the infield for many years. Vitters has been on fire the last month and a half!

        • J Daniel

          I am in agreement. Would love to see Vitters up soon but I think it is important not to rush him either and want him to be ready. Rizzo just looks like he has “it” and is going to be really good. That is what we need Vitters to do.

          And maybe Barney will be ok. Certainly would help to have a couple of really good guys in the of.

          Oh wait, we have an all star outfielder that is left handed! :}

        • JimBo_C

          Would like to see Lake move to 2B to complete this infield.

        • GaryLeeT

          Considering Vitters lost a year to injuries, he’s doing very well. A low pressure, lost season, is the perfect time to give a player on the cusp, OJT in the Majors. The Rays moved many players to the Majors at the same time, and it worked out pretty well for them.

  • cubtex

    Vitters continues to rake! RBI double in the first!

    • Zonk

      Yes he does. RE: Vitters, Hoyer says he will stay down until September, and I agree with that. He wasn’t great last year at AA, I would rather him build some confidence and contact. We aren’t going anywhere this year, and Valbuena is serviceable in the meantime.

      • DWalker

        Also, can’t ever forget this front office is a lot more long term savvy, they are not going to sacrifice a year of control on a wasted year when he can benefit from being down there. dw

      • GaryLeeT

        Again with the control thing. Even while under team control, a player still gets paid the going rate for his performance, during arbitration eligible years. Plus, a player that is worth keeping, should get a contract, long before that last year of control ends. In conclusion, player control is over rated, unless they play for a small market team.

        • gary3411

          Nobody has unlimited funds. Small market or big market every place to save money is key.

          It’s the year 2017 and cubs third baseman josh vitters is coming off a career year. He is one year from FA and is not looking to sign an extension with the Cubs because he is about to be paid big if he hits the market. He is in his third year of arbitration and will be making around 10mil. The Cubs payroll is its highest in history as they are going for it this year, 170million. They need one more piece to their bullpen but have lost out on the first few good arms available in FA because Josh Vitters will be making a few million more in his final year of arbitration than he would have if the Cubs wouldn’t have wasted that stupid year of control in 2012 bringing him up in a lost season when he wasn’t even dominating in AAA. Now they settle on the journeyman Carlos Marmol on a one year deal worth 3 million.

          OR

          Josh Vitters is only in his second year of arbitration and signs a good extention through 2020 at a discounted 2017 rate (just 4million) so the Cubs could sign an elite setup man to cement the bullpen.

          And this is just with one player. Think if Rizzo and Vitters were both brought up to start the year, then we’d really be losing big bucks and leverage for extensions down the road.

          It makes a big difference, especially when you think about it not just for each individual player but for every player to ever come up through the system. Bringing them up early just to get a look is stupid unless they are completely and utterly killing AAA ball (Vitters is not, not even close, 850ops or so, good, nothing special)

          Not to mention Valbuena had superior numbers at AAA this year and is far superior on defense.

          • paulcatanese

            I’ll take you’re word that Vitters is not great on defense as I don’t know that much about him.
            But would have to dis-agree that Valbuena is
            far superior on defense, he is shaky there at best and indecisive with his movements, hesitates with plays. Just dont agree with that.
            Like his bat so-far but thats it.

          • gary3411

            historically, statisticly far superior is what I should have said. Not seen enough of either to say one is better with the eye test.

          • paulcatanese

            That makes more sense to me, so you could very well be correct. No eye test on Vitters at all.
            I think Stewart was and is not the answer and someone needs to step up and claim 3b.
            Valbuena has impressed with his bat(hangs in there), and I assume from all of the praise that Vitters has recieved from posters that he could be on his way up.
            Stewart’s pre-existing injury made it a bad pickup and will continue and don’t think he will be back.

          • Patrick_Schaefer

            I was at the game yesterday sitting right along the thirdbaseline between home and third and Valbuena looked very fluid in his movements defensively. He may not be the long-term solution but I do enjoy watching him play. He makes a lot of hard contact with the bat.

          • GaryLeeT

            So you are saying that putting, and keeping a championship caliber team together is expensive? Really? Signing core players to long term contracts, seems to be the most prudent way to save money, but you don’t need extra years of control to do that. If the team is interested in saving money, Castro should get a long term contract before next season starts. We’ll see.

          • gary3411

            Signing the RIGHT core players to long term, yes, is the most prudent way. You don’t want to sign one that might stop working hard as soon as the signature is made.

            Also, that player (Castro) must be willing to sign this contract.

      • ChadAudio

        I totally agree. I am impatient and want to see him up now, but it makes more sense letting him get more seasoning. It’s not just the contract stuff, Vitters just seems to progress slowly… let’s let this hot streak promote other growth for him in AAA.

        Look, he’s not a big power hitter. At best, he’s a guy who hits for average (hopefully he gets a little bit more power), without any speed or defense… let’s let him work on his game and then bring him up to stay when he’s ready.

  • J Daniel

    How about Travis Wood? I posted earlier today that maybe just maybe he could be a good #4 or #5. I know small sample size (as we are all concerned with on here now) but he has looked really good. Maybe it has clicked? It would be great to have added another young, productive, and controllable piece to the equation.

    • DWalker

      I am starting to feel him and shark will be a big part of next years rotation. He’s showing he does have the stuff. if he can nail it down and be steady he could be a solid pitcher for a long time to come. Depending what happens to Garza, they could have a decent core coming back.

    • GaryLeeT

      I want to say you are right, but I am one of those that anointed Samardzija staff ace, so I am still a little leery about dolling out projections. However, for Wood, the crow is in the oven.

    • Tony_Hall

      Travis Wood has looked great, let’s hope he can keep it up. His bat alone is worth getting him in the lineup.

  • Tony_Hall

    6 days of Rizzo, and there just seems to be a different feel to the team…maybe it’s all the wins…

    • paulcatanese

      Not to mention,someone who can catch the ball:)

    • J Daniel

      Just looks like he has “it”, unlike many other of the guys that have been brought up in recent years such as Pie, Patterson, Choi, . . . and that is why JH kept going with veterans. They knew these guys were more hype than anything.

  • paulcatanese

    Dumb question, but with Stewart, is it his right hand or left?
    Being righthanded, it could make for an uncomfortable time for a few weeks:) ( been there with my right wrist) had to learn to do everything with my left hand, which can be confusing to say the least:)

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Paul, it is his left wrist.

      • paulcatanese

        Thank you Neil, at least he is ok in some situations:)

  • paulcatanese

    Really an uncomfortable statement coming out of Bleacher Report. Rizzo for Rookie of the year? Give the kid a break, the way they talk about him its a wonder that he even shows up at all, just send him the trophy and let him stay at home.
    Accolades are being thrown left and right at him.
    I thought the plan was to not put pressure on him, after all he must answer to the media whatever is thrown out there.
    So far he has handled it well with the press, but those guys can be a wear and tear on a player, lets hope he has a standard response and lets them go.