Game Seventy-Eight: Cubs (33-44) vs. Mariners (34-45)
- Game Time – 9:10pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 181/844
- Location – Safeco Field, Seattle
Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85/1.00) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.26/0.89)
The Cubs begin a three-game series tonight in Seattle after posting back-to-back series wins over the Astros and Brewers. The Cubs have won four of six but will face two big challenges over the next seven days in the Mariners and Athletics. While Seattle has their own problems, Eric Wedge’s team is a lot like the Cubs. The Mariners have a very good starting rotation, a not-so-good bullpen and an offense that will not be compared to the ’27 Yankees anytime soon.
The Cubs have played good ball against the Junior Circuit to this point and own an 8-3 record in Interleague play. The Mariners, on the other hand, are 3-5 in their first eight games against the Senior Circuit.
The Cubs and Mariners square off for the fourth series since Interleague play began tonight. The Cubs have won five of the nine games (5-4 record) against the Mariners. The Cubs dropped two of three the last time they were in Seattle back in June of 2010. Jason Vargas beat Ryan Dempster in the opener and Cliff Lee topped Randy Wells the next day. Lou’s Crew salvaged the finale with John Grabow picking up the win and Tom Gorzelanny the save in 13 innings.
Alfonso Soriano was held out of the final two games of the Brewers series but is expected back in the lineup tonight as the Cubs’ designate hitter. Dale Sveum will reportedly use Soriano primarily as the DH over the next six games with Brian Bogusevic getting the bulk of the playing time in left field.
The Cubs will catch somewhat of a break this weekend. They will not have to face Felix Hernandez but will have to kick-off the three game series after a long flight against Hisashi Iwakuma. Travis Wood will have to be on top of his game once again with Iwakuma on the hill. After tonight’s matchup of Wood and Iwakuma, Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face long-time Cubs’ nemesis, Aaron Harang, on Saturday night. The series wraps on Sunday afternoon with Edwin Jackson squaring off against Jeremy Bonderman.
Tonight it all starts with Travis Wood …
It will be interesting to see how Travis Wood pitches tonight after the way his last outing ended. Wood was cruising right along until two-outs in the sixth inning. The Cubs were up 3-0 before a two-out single by Jose Altuve gave the Astros life and two batters later J.D. Martinez tied the game with one swing of the bat. Wood started the seventh but was removed after issuing a leadoff walk. Wood has responded positively this year to a bad ending in his previous outing … let’s see if he can do it again.
Travis Wood has been very good for Dale Sveum this season and could end up being the Cubs’ lone representative in the upcoming All-Star game. Wood has notched 14 quality starts in 15 tries and while he has not posted a win since May 30, Wood is 0-3 in his last four starts with a 3.12 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. Wood has maintained a nearly 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (19 strikeouts, five walks) while allowing less hits (20) than innings pitched (26). For the year, Wood has 69 strikeouts and 29 walks in 98 innings while allowing only 69 hits.
Travis Wood is 2-2 in five road starts this season with a 3.48 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Tonight will be his first career start against the Mariners.
Jason Bay (1-for-3), Raul Ibanez (1-for-4 with a triple) and Brendan Ryan (0-for-2 with a walk) are the only players on the Mariners’ active roster that have faced Travis Wood in a regular season game.
The Cubs will get their first regular season look at Hisashi Iwakuma tonight. The Japanese right-hander is off to an excellent start to the year and could be on his way to New York for the All-Star game.
Iwakuma is coming off back-to-back rough outings against the Athletics. Iwakuma will probably be glad to see another team considering the way the A’s beat him up both in Seattle and in Oakland. The A’s scored four runs off of Iwakuma in each game and beat him both times.
Hisashi Iwakuma is 3-1 in eight home starts this season with a spectacular 1.46 ERA and a 0.61 WHIP. Even with his struggles against the A’s, Iwakuma is 1-2 in his last four starts with a 2.67 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
No one on the Cubs’ active roster has faced Iwakuma during a regular season game.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …