Cubs Complete a Long, Strange Trip with a Sweep – Cubs 2, Giants 1

Game One Hundred Three– Cubs 2, Giants 1

WP – Travis Wood (7-7) LP – Tim Lincecum (5-11) Save – Kevin Gregg (22)

wflag-pubThe Cubs completed their first three-game sweep in San Francisco in nearly 20 years on Sunday behind a pair of solo home runs from Travis Wood and Welington Castillo.

Travis Wood was serviceable on the hill and completed seven innings of work. Wood held the Giants to one run on four hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings. Wood did not pitch as well as his final line indicates but did his job. Wood struggled with his fastball command and left countless pitches up in the zone. Against a better offense, Wood would not have been around as long on Sunday afternoon.

Travis Wood picked up another quality start (18 out of 21 for the season) and once again he helped his own cause at the plate. Travis Wood (2-for-3 with a home run) collected two of the first three Cubs’ hits and broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with his third homer of the season. Wood has hit three home runs this season, three short of the Cubs’ single-season home run mark for pitchers held by Ferguson Jenkins (1971) and Carlos Zambrano (2006).

Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless eighth and Kevin Gregg picked up his third save of the series.

The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent on Sunday. After letting Tim Lincecum off the hook in the first inning, the Cubs managed only two runs and four hits over the last eight innings. Welington Castillo (1-for-3 with a home run) broke the 1-1 tie in the seventh inning with his third longball of the season. Castillo hit a big, big fly and possibly the longest home run of his big league career that proved to be the game winner.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) and Luis Valbuena (1-for-4) collected the other two hits while David DeJesus (0-for-2 with two walks) was the only other Cub that reached base on Sunday.

The Cubs completed their first series sweep in San Francisco since Sept. 13 – Sept. 15, 1993 and took the season series from the Giants (4-3). The Cubs finished a very difficult ten-game road trip through Colorado, Arizona and San Francisco with a 6-4 record. With Sunday’s victory (7-10 on Sundays in 2013), the Cubs improved to 48-55 on the season.

The Cubs wasted a great scoring chance in the first inning after David DeJesus walked to start the game and ended up at third with one out when Anthony Rizzo doubled to right. Nate Schierholtz worked a full count before striking out swinging. Starlin Castro flied out to right center (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. The Cubs made Tim Lincecum work (32 pitches, 17 for strikes) but could not push across a run.

Travis Wood really struggled in the first inning. Wood walked Andres Torres after jumping ahead of him 0-2 to start the at bat. Scutaro popped out to right and Wood struck out Buster Posey swinging. Wood then issued his second walk of the inning to Pablo Sandoval. With two on and two down, Hunter Pence grounded out to third to end the inning. Wood threw 26 pitches in the first, 14 for strikes.

The game remained scoreless through the second as both Wood and Lincecum settled in somewhat.

Travis Wood led off the third with a single to left but Lincecum retired DeJesus, Lake and Rizzo in order to wrap up the inning. Lincecum needed 61 pitches, 37 for strikes, to complete three innings.

Tim Lincecum led off the bottom of the third with a single to left. Wood retired Torres on a flyout to left but issued a one-out walk to Marco Scutaro. Wood caught Posey looking at a 0-2 pitch. With two on and two down, Wood walked Sandoval to load the bases for Hunter Pence. Wood made an excellent pitch to Pence, jammed him and then caught his pop up in foul ground to end the inning. Wood survived another shaky inning and needed 57 pitches, 31 for strikes, to complete three frames on Sunday.

The game remained scoreless through the fourth.

Lincecum retired Barney and Castillo rather quickly to start the fifth inning. Travis Wood stepped in and launched a 3-2 pitch to deep left. The ball ended up in the stands and Wood gave himself a 1-0 lead with his third big fly of the season. Lincecum issued a four-pitch walk to DeJesus. Junior Lake smoked Lincecum’s first pitch down the third baseline. Pablo Sandoval made a diving stop toward the line and threw out Lake at first to end the inning.

Travis Wood took the hill in the fifth with a 1-0 lead, but it did not last long. Tim Lincecum single to right to start the inning. Andres Torres hit a routine grounder to third. Luis Valbuena stopped the ball, then dropped it and had no play. Marco Scutaro singled to left and loaded the bases with no outs.

Buster Posey pulled a grounder toward third. Luis Valbuena fielded the ball as Lincecum retreated toward third. Valbuena ran over and stepped on the bag, then threw home to complete the double play. With runners on first and second with two down, Pablo Sandoval doubled into the left field corner. Scutaro scored and tied the game at one. With runners on second and third, Wood struck out Hunter Pence swinging to end the inning … 85 pitches, 52 strikes, for Wood after five innings.

The game remained tied at one through the sixth and into the seventh.

Andres Torres made a diving catch running in toward the infield to take away a hit from Valbuena to start the seventh. Barney grounded out to short for the second out.

Welington Castillo stepped in and worked a 3-1 count. Castillo did not miss Lincecum’s next pitch. Castillo launched the 3-1 offering into the stands in left field. Castillo’s third home run of the season put the Cubs up 2-1. Lincecum struck out Wood swinging to end the inning.

Travis Wood retired the side in order in the seventh … and after seven complete, the Cubs led 2-1.

The Cubs did nothing in the eighth and Pedro Strop worked around a two-out infield single (swinging bunt up the third baseline) by Hunter Pence in the eighth without allowing the tying run to score.

Luis Valbuena reached with a two-out single in the ninth but that was all and Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Kevin Gregg retired Arias on a flyout to right and caught Brandon Belt looking at a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Bruce Bochy sent up Kensuke Tanaka to hit for Sandy Rosario. Gregg walked Tanaka on a 3-2 pitch. Tanaka took off for second on a 1-2 pitch to Gregor Blanco. Castillo made a low throw, the ball skipped past Castro and into centerfield. Tanaka ended up at third with two out. Blanco popped out to Castro to end the game.

The Cubs open a four-game series against the Brewers on Monday night at Wrigley. The Cubs play four games in three days against Milwaukee … Jeff Samardzija versus Kyle Lohse in game one.

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  • Tony_Hall

    Nice way for the team to respond after trading Garza and Soriano and dealing with all the rumors, all the while being on an extended west coast trip.

    • triple

      Exactly why I think most of these guys really should stay put at this point. They have a good core that can carry them until they are ready to fill in the talent from their own farm system over the next couple years.

      Maybe drinking too much Kool-aid, but I feel this off-season might be a good time to bring in a decent free agent signing that would help this team be competitive in the coming years as more talent moves up the system.

    • cubtex

      It was good that they were playing the Giants as well. Got to catch teams at the right time. They were actually outscored by 9 runs on this road trip and still had a winning record. Can’t do that too often.

      • Tony_Hall

        That is a good example of the stats not telling the whole story. Lost one game 9-3 and and another 10-4. The rest were close games that they played in and came out very well on this trip, considering they couldn’t win a game in the NL West last year.

        • Dorasaga

          Sample size, my friend, sample size…

          • Tony_Hall

            Of course, but it was a poor use of a stat to prove something. Very good road trip that looked bad if you looked at run differential only.

  • Denver Mike

    Before anyone gets all bent out of shape, let me preface by saying “This will never happen”, but…

    The Cubs win and Reds loss today put the Northsiders 9 games out of the 2nd wild card spot in the NL with 59 games to go. Of the four teams in front of them (Nats, Phils, Dbacks, and Rox), only the Dbacks are above .500, and none of them are playing very intimidating ball right now. On top of that everyone expects the Pirates to start their late season slide any time now (not me but can’t argue with history). Anyone care to get their hope up?

    As I said in the beginning there is virtually no chance, but just one week ago teams within 10 games of making the playoffs were considering themselves buyers as the deadline approached. I for one am still rooting for the better draft pick, but could never root for the Cubs to lose. So rather than think about the downside of getting closer to .500, it is way more fun to dream about “what ifs”.

    Hahaha, just re-reading this post I’m starting to think the beer I just drank was spiked with something!

    • CubbyDenCritic

      a few seasons ago, the Astros went on a terrific run in the second half….if this Cubs team made it to 500, that would be news…..and hope for the seasons to come.

    • BosephHeyden

      No, this exact thought just went through my head when I read the standings. And it’s not like the Cubs have to be world beaters to make up half that ground of 9 games. Like you mentioned, only one team in the chase for the Wild Card is actually above .500. Every other team? They’re all ridiculously inconsistent. The proof is in the fact we just swept the defending World Series champs. Not because we beat them up. But because the Giants just played completely uninspired. And it isn’t just them: only a few teams are actually playing like they want to make the playoffs, and most of those teams are in the AL.

      It’s also worth mentioning that Selig is dropping the hammer this week on Biogenesis. Even if players appeal the suspensions, their teammates will know they cheated, and that will probably affect their play.

      The Cubs really aren’t good enough to make this type of run. But with the way every other team has been playing, they really don’t have to be.

    • Rational Logic

      It’s certainly possible, but not probable, indeed. Especially considering the Cubs will most likely trade away another player or two before the the deadline.

      If the Cubs were to make the playoffs, Jed would be GM of the year, hands down. Heck, if the Cubs are .500 it would be an incredible season.

      As for the “tank for the pick” people out there, I’d rather play it out! 1. No pick is ever guaranteed to be a great player and 2. I’d rather know we’re closer to having a competitive ball team.

      At least it will be a (hopefully) fun remaining 59 games!

      • triple

        I certainly agree with you and Denver Mike… I’d much rather watch this team fight and claw their way to .500 than to tank and get a top 5 draft pick. But it’s nice to know that the consolation prize is worth it, for the way that they’ve drafted the past 2 years.

      • SirGladiator

        I agree that we’ve very much got a fighting chance to make the playoffs. Think of all the games we gave away before we had any kind of a bullpen, think of how much better Rizzo and Castro could be hitting (even Barney, he always sucks but not this badly), if they turn things back around and we start scoring some real runs to go along with the awesome starting pitching we’re getting most nights, no reason why we can’t make the playoffs!

        • Theboardrider

          It will be fun to watch them scrap and claw for wins. Some very true statements you guys have made about others not playing inspired and us just being the lesser of two evils. It’s going to be a fun couple of months to watch, especially when rosters expand. Shoot, I’ll be rooting for .500 as if it were the playoffs. Just as a moral victory.

    • Dorasaga

      Gotta love this team. They are on a roll, and beating a good pitching staff out of a telecomm park, where the greats like Melky C and Barry B used biochem to keep the fans happy, and management likewise. Ah, good old time with Bud Selig and Friends.

      Seriously, beat the cr*p outta them with real talents, young, athletic, versatile, and good defensive fielders, say Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Sox want more for Peavy than what the Cubs got in return for Garza…..some how I think there is a team that will go after Shark and give Theo what he wants.

    • BosephHeyden

      The Cubs want more for Samardzija than they did Garza, too. Probably more than the Sox want for Peavy.

      • bpot92

        And thinking about it, with the Dbacks losing and the dodgers winning, Cliff lee not being put on the market, and many teams still looking for both RP and SP the cubs could indeed make this an interesting week

      • daverj

        The price for Shark will definitely be higher than the price for Peavy. Likely significantly higher.

    • triple

      That would be awesome!

  • Tony_Hall

    2 more home runs for Baez.

    Baez now has 10 HRs in his first 20 AA games (82 ab)
    The southern league leader has 17 HRs in 337 ABs.

    Any questions on this guy?

    • CubbyDenCritic

      yeah…..needs to work on his defense.

      • J Daniel

        Lol … Maybe but a guy with is electric bat … Don’t grow on trees. Barney plays excellent defense … Enough said.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          Then why isn’t Barney in the minors and Baez in the majors?…… me, Theo & coaching staff knows more about Baez abilities & weaknesses than anyone here.,,,,Scouts also take notice….Baez is dealing with minor league pitching, not major league pitching…..big difference.

          • Theboardrider

            He’s playing the hand he’s dealt. Got to perform where you’re at. He’s doing very well and projects to continue at AAA. Where will he start next year, AAA? I could see him in Chicago by the end of next season.

    • Denver Mike

      His power is unquestioned, his first HR today looked like a foul pop off the bat and still cleared the wall. But as I mentioned earlier he only has 3 doubles and 6 walks. He definitely needs more seasoning, as he has K rate of 35% at AA attests to, but he will almost certainly be competing for a spot on the big club in 2015. He may very well develop into the 3-4 hole hitter we so desperately need, which would allow us to focus on finding a #1 &#2 starter in FA.

      • Tony_Hall

        Hard to get doubles when the ball keeps flying over the wall.

        Would you feel better if he had 4 hr’s and 9 doubles? He is going to k a lot and will increase his bb% as he keeps developing like he did in single A.

        • Denver Mike

          I’m not unhappy now, but I would be even happier if he had 10HRs and a lower K %. I would go so far to say I would be just as happy if he had 5-10 HR, 5-10 doubles and a lower K %, as depending on who is getting on in front of him it would likely amount to more runs driven in than 10HR and 30 Ks. It’s just not his game, but that is just fine as many have had very long careers hitting HRs while striking out a ton. Adam Dunn jumps out as me as one, but I personally have larger aspirations for Mr. Baez.

          • Denver Mike

            That is actually more in line with what I think he will do at AA next year. I pointed out in the last thread that he seems to struggle at his first taste of each level, then after a winter of practice, really picks up his game the next spring. That is why I think the summer of 2015 will be when we see him with the big club. Earlier would be nice, but no need to rush him.

    • rational logic

      The only thing that bothers me is he seems to be all-or-nothing and that doesn’t always translate into success in the big leagues.

    • triple

      He sure can hit a ball hard with that swing he’s got, but he certainly needs to make alot more contact when he does swing, and lay off a lot of pitches too. It’s nice to know that this kid should develop for another year or so and probably get his first taste of the big leagues. It will be fun to watch him in spring training next year!

  • bpot92

    Main need of the Dbacks is a lefty reliever says Towers?

    Russel and Samardzija to the Dbacks for Bradley+? Might be one way to get him

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Russell has same value as Sean Marshall according to reports…….add him to a Samardzija trade, we are talking about getting more than four top prospects in return………all I can say is that Theo is holding “key” players for many teams that are looking at a title.

      • bpot92

        Reports were saying Bradley and Skaggs were un touchable. Maybe with the Dbacks losing two straight and the Dodgers winning two straight they will get desperate

      • daverj

        What reports are you referring to? Russell doesn’t have the same value as Marshall. It’s not even close. Russell is a LOOGY while Marshall was able to get lefties and righties out. Marshall had significantly more trade value. Russell will bring back 1 mid level prospect, at best.

        And the DBacks won’t deal Bradley alone (let alone Bradley plus others) for Shark and Russell.

        I suppose there is nothing wrong with dreaming. I’d love to see Bradley in a Cubs uniform.

        • bpot92

          And the Cubs won’t deal Shark and Russell for Bradley straight up either. Maybe The Shark for him but either way its a pipe dream to get him

  • CubbyDenCritic

    ESPN Bruce Levine reporting Peavy cleaned out his locker….trade happen?

  • paulcatanese

    I know there’s no chance of this happening, but at least the Cubs should give some consideration to using Wood off the bench with his bat.
    He swings a very good bat, better than most, the idea that he is a pitcher and shouldn’t be used that way would be ok if he was just mediocre, but he’s not.
    Way better than Zambrano was, and he was used in that capacity.

    • SirGladiator

      I agree with that with one possible caveat. T Woody is in serious contention for the Cy Young award, he’s having an unreal season. If we start using him as a pinch hitter, might that throw him off a bit? If he were having the kind of season Samarja is having, I’d be 100% behind doing it. But the idea of Woody winning the Cy Young makes me want to not do anything that has even the slightest chance of throwing him off his game. If he has a couple more bad games and his ERA balloons, putting him out of the race, then I’ll say go for it, make him a pinch hitter, he’d be a good one!

      • paulcatanese

        To be honest, I never thought about that, certainly the Cy Young award would take precedence over pinch hitting.

        • daverj

          That shouldn’t be a concern. Wood is not a Cy Young contender. The leading contenders likely be Kershaw, Harvey, Wainwright, Corbin, and Kimbrel. Bumgarner and S Miller are a step behind those guys but still ahead of Wood.

          I agree that Wood may make sense as a pinch hitter in some situations.

          • Denver Mike

            …and Clayton Kershaw will win it regardless as his numbers are on a level above everyone else.

          • Tony_Hall

            Might want to check out Matt Harvey before declaring a winner.

          • Denver Mike

            Admittedly I didn’t think the two were as close as they are, but I’ll still stick with my original prediction. Most of Kershaw’s peripherals are better (slightly), he has more wins, pitches on a more successful team (even though they claim that doesn’t play in, sure), and his track record makes me think he is more likely to keep up his current level throughout the remainder of the year.

            Harvey has already thrown more innings this year than he has in any single season his entire career, and while I certainly hope he keeps it up because he is really fun to watch, I do think he is more likely to see a slight performance dip as the innings continue to mount.

            We shall see, but if I am wrong you can remind me later.

      • Tony_Hall

        He is just not in CY Young contention. Not even close.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I like using him as a pinch hitter, but the reason they did so with Zambrano is because he was a switch hitter. If Wood batted lefty, you would have seen him do it already.

  • Theboardrider

    Again Strop is magnificent. What a difference a change of scenery makes! Of course it helps to throw 98 and have pitches that dart all over the place when you throw them.

    He’s looking like alone he’s making the Feldman deal a winner. And most “experts,” say Arrieta is the one with all of the upside. We may have found a bonafide, fearsome closer! Sure looks like it…