Tag: Travis Wood

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) and catcher Miguel Montero (47) react after defeating the New York Mets 6-5 in a baseball game Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Cubs rally to complete four-game sweep of Mets


Thanks to a little help from the Mets, the Cubs rallied for a 6-5 win this afternoon at Wrigley Field to finish off a four-game sweep.

The Mets got out to an early 5-1 lead behind two home runs from Anthony Recker, a solo shot from Wilmer Flores, and a two-run single from John Mayberry, Jr., which chased Travis Wood from the ballgame. However, the Cubs tied things up against Jon Niese by batting around in the bottom of the fifth inning. A throwing error from Wilmer Flores helped open the door for more damage, but Niese gave up four hits and a walk in the frame.

Niese stuck around until the seventh inning when he gave up a one-out single to Dexter Fowler before hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch. He was relieved by Hansel Robles, who got Kris Bryant to fly out to right field, but Fowler moved over to third base on the play and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run when Recker was charged with a passed ball during Starlin Castro’s at-bat. Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon followed with scoreless innings to finish off the victory for Chicago.

This was the Cubs’ first four-game sweep at Wrigley Field since May 29-June 1, 2008 against the Rockies and their first four-game sweep against the Mets since August 6-9, 1992.

The Mets are 7-12 since their 11-game winning streak and now sit at 20-15 on the year, just one game ahead of the Nationals in the National League East. As for the Cubs, they improved to 19-15 on the year with the sweep and find themselves five games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Dan Uggla

Nationals 13, Braves 12: You’d think that all of the money the Braves are paying Dan Uggla that he’d treat them with more respect than to hit a clutch three-run homer to complete a huge comeback against them. The nerve.

Seriously, though: while I don’t much care for Uggla and he was frustrating when he played for my team, I don’t hold him sucking while in Atlanta against him personally. Some do. Many do. Many in Atlanta these past two days booed him and felt bile. Why? Do they think he enjoyed sucking? Enjoyed losing his job and then being released? Of course he didn’t. He probably felt way worse about it than y’all did. Glad he’s gone, but he hasn’t deserved the sort of hatred you see of him among some Braves fans.

I’d rather Uggla hit this homer in a losing cause because, again, he’s playing my team. But if the Braves had to lose this game — and don’t even get me started about their crap defense and bullpen which caused them to — good for him for having a great moment in the ballpark that has been a house of horrors for him. I don’t believe it will turn him back into an All-Star or anything, but even so, he’ll remember this all of his life and have at least one good memory of the past few years of his career instead of nothing but bad ones. We should want human beings who have experienced some challenges to have good moments like that on the other side.

Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 8: Like a mini-Nats-Braves game, with the home team jumping out to a lead — here it was just 4-0 — and the road team roaring back against a bad pitching staff. Marco Estrada was the hero here for the Jays, entering the game in the fifth inning with nobody out and the bases loaded — walking in one guy but otherwise limiting the damage — and then going on to pitch three innings of hitless ball. The Sox can take solace in the fact that the Jays have beat the heck out of every pitching staff — they lead the league in runs per game — but it’s hard to imagine how Boston’s pitching could be much worse.

Royals 11, Indians 5: Yet another come-from-behind, big offense game. Kendry Morales hit a three-run homer capped a six-run seventh inning. Alex Gordon homered and drove in two. The Indians have lost 8 of 11 and possess the worst record in the AL.

Mariners 2, Rangers 1: In one of the more nerdy/embarrassing things I’ll ever admit to on this blog, I have had, ever since I was a kid . . . Thomas Jefferson fantasies. No, it’s not a sex thing. And I don’t know why it’s Thomas Jefferson over any other historical figure, but it is. Anyway, here’s the thing: I imagine that Thomas Jefferson was suddenly zapped to the present and is hanging out with me. My job is to attempt to explain the present to him and show him things like air travel and computers and modern cities and stuff like that. He asks me questions about them and I try to answer. I assume that I started doing this as some sort of means of challenging myself to explain my world in terms that do not assume prior knowledge. An intellectual, pedagogical game or whatever. And, again, I have no idea why it’s Thomas Jefferson, but it is. Anyway, I’ve done this since I was ten or eleven years old and still catch myself doing it sometimes.

The whole point of that is to say that, if we swapped out Thomas Jefferson for Walter Johnson or someone, we could play that game with baseball and try to explain to him how it took six pitchers for the Mariners to win a game in which they allowed only one run to the Rangers.

Cubs 6, Pirates 2: The Cubs have won their fourth in a row. Dexter Fowler had three hits and two RBIs, Travis Wood tossed seven strong innings. Conversation had after this game. One of these comments actually happened, as reported in the game story:

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair!

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: Crush your enemies! See them driven before you! Hear the lamentations of their women!

Mongol General: Wrong! Joe Maddon! What is best in life?

Joe Maddon: I love two-out runs, man. They really hurt the other side badly. When you get ’em, there’s nothing more glorious than that.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good!


Yankees 4, Rays 2: A win, but one overshadowed by the news that today’s scheduled starter, Masahiro Tanaka, has to go on the DL. Chase Whitley started here — it was just supposed to be a spot start — but it turned out to be an audition for a regular slot in the rotation. It went well, with Whitley allowing six hits and one run in five innings. That’s 10 of 12 for New York.

Reds 4, Brewers 2: This Brewers loss allowed MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince to offer up the joke/factoid of the night:

Johnny Cueto allowed two runs in eight innings, needing only 85 pitches. Joey Votto homered. He’s hitting .316/.429/.645 on the year and is on a 50+ home rune, 130+ RBI pace.

Marlins 4, Mets 3: The Marlins have won six of seven, this one thanks to Michael Morse’s tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth. Dee Gordon got two more hits. He’s batting .400 on the year.

Twins 3, Tigers 2: My girlfriend, a Tigers fan, hasn’t been able to see a lot of games yet this year because (a) the Tigers have played a lot of day games; and (b) they’ve played the Indians a lot and they’re blacked out on her MLB.tv here in Ohio. But she watched the game last night and offered this observation to me over Gchat: “I cant be the only one that finds it hilarious that Mike Pelfrey is good now that he’s with the Twins of all teams.” It is kind of hilarious, even if it may not last. Here he allowed one earned run in seven innings and the Twins won a back and forth affair. Kurt Suzuki had two hits and the go-ahead single in the seventh inning.

Cardinals 11, Phillies 5: Welcome to the big leagues, Severino Gonzalez. The Phillies starter allowed seven runs on ten hits and didn’t make it out of the third inning. Matt Carpenter tripled and doubled and scored three times. Mike Matheny juggled the batting order for this one and I imagine people will credit the offensive outburst for that, but really, I feel like this was more of a Severino-driven kind of thing.

Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 5: The Archie Bradley ball-to-the-face thing was the big story here, but thank goodness he walked off under his own power. They’ll make an assessment of him today, but he’s probably going on the DL. Offensively, things went much better: Mark Trumbo went 4 for 4 with a two-run homer and a two-run triple. Paul Goldschmidt went 3-for-3 with three RBI.

Athletics 6, Angels 2: The Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the A’s took it right back with five in the bottom of the first. After that it was the Sonny Gray show. The A’s ace went eight innings, striking out six and allowing only those two first inning runs. Jered Weaver endured that bad first inning himself to last seven innings, but he’s having himself a terrible start to the year.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Kershaw vs. Bumgarner. Advantage: Bumgarner. The Giants notched two early runs off of the reigning MVP, but that’s all they’d need as the reigning World Series MVP allowed only one run and struck out nine in eight innings. Buster Posey did all of the damage here, with a solo homer and an RBI single. So yeah, the outcome here was determined by star power.

Astros 14, Padres 3: George Springer homered and drove in five runs. Jose Altuve had four hits. The Astros won again. Time to take them seriously, folks.

White Sox vs. Orioles: POSTPONED:  After two postponements, these two teams will play today at 2:05 Eastern. Except the game will be closed to the public. No fans. Empty seats. I put the over/under on guys describing this as “surreal” at 15, because that’s the go-to word these days for odd or different. Or, in some cases “too real,” but that’s another rant. And while all of this is occasioned by some really unfortunate events in Baltimore, let us look on the bright side. If one brave person can manage to sneak into the stands at Camden Yards undetected, and can sit in an empty, cavernous stadium for even a moment before he is caught, he will have the opportunity to offer the greatest “YOU SUCK!” in baseball history. Please, God, make this happen.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

Mike Trout

Angels 10, Rangers 2: Mike Trout had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run. The AP gamer likewise says that he convinced this game’s starter — Hector Santiago — to get a reverse mohawk after his last outing, which Santiago credits with helping him pitch well here: “Stay in your lane,” Santiago said, explaining what the haircut symbolized. “Just like I draw the lane out on the mound. Stay straight ahead.”

Hey, can’t criticize. Like the man said, if you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear or because you get a reverse mohawk, then you are! And you should know that! Well, come on, Annie, think of something clever to say, huh? Something full of magic, religion, bulls**t. Come on, dazzle me!

Marlins 6, Braves 2: Dan Haren gave up two runs in seven innings for his first win of the season. It put him in a good mood, too:

Twins 3, Royals 1: Whenever the last remaining undefeated team finally loses a game, the last major league team to go 162-0 pops the corks of bottles of that special champagne they save for the occasion. It’s quite the tradition.

Indians 4, White Sox 2: Trevor Bauer started off the game with three no-hit innings to go with the six no-hit innings from his first outing of the season. I think that’s at least worth, like, half a dogpile on the mound. Which, yes, would’ve been awkward to do in the middle of the third of an ongoing game, but still. Bauer’s win stopped a four-game losing streak. Guess that makes him a “stopper.”

Nationals 10, Red Sox 5: The Red Sox winning some games early has masked the fact that their rotation has sucked eggs. Hard to mask it here as Wade Miley gave up seven runs in two and a third. It was a six-run third that set the tone here, featuring a Wilson Ramos three-run double and an Ian Desmond a solo homer.

Orioles 7, Yankees 5: The Yankees had a one-run lead when Nathan Eovaldi left and the pen came in to start the sixth inning. Then Jonathan Schoop homered and four more runs crossed the plate before the inning ended. Oops. Chris Davis drove in three in the game. Manny Machado homered and Caleb Joseph went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Not gonna jump to crazy conclusions, but the Yankees may not be very good.

Tigers 1, Pirates 0: Rajai Davis hit a solo homer and that was the whole dang thing. Well, the eight scoreless innings from Alfredo Simon helped too.

Blue Jays 12, Rays 7: Huge bats and some stellar D. Homers from Jose Bautista and rookies Devon Travis and Dalton Pompey. Travis had three hits overall. What a pickup Travis was from the Tigers last year.

Mets 6, Phillies 1: The sweep. Which should have Mets fans excited. But the optimism should be a bit cautious still, given that the Phillies are, from the looks of things early, gonna stink on ice. Lucas Duda homered and had an RBI double.

Cubs 5, Reds 0: Travis Wood — who used to pitch for the Reds — tossed seven shutout innings against his old mates. Or at least a few of his old mates as he was last in Cincy four years ago. And heck, maybe even those guys didn’t like him that much when he was there, making “mates” too strong a word. Maybe Wood was the guy who stole people’s lunches from the break room fridge, ever think of that?

Astros 6, Athletics 1: Collin McHugh struck out 11 and the Astros got homers from Jed Lowrie, Luis Valbuena and Evan Gattis. Factoid: the A’s have been outscored 32-14 in their five losses and have 42-1 margin in their five wins. Remember last year how, early, all their wins seemed to be blowouts too? There’s probably some cosmic meaning to that.

Cardinals 4, Brewers 2: Lance Lynn and six (!) relief pitchers combined on this one. Yadier Molina had three hits.

Padres 3, Diamondbacks 2: Justin Upton homered and Craig Kimbrel locked it down, giving the Braves the 3-2 win.


Dodgers 5, Mariners 2: I picked the Dodgers and the Mariners to go to the World Series. If this was that World Series the Dodgers would have a commanding 3-0 lead. Though they would have to explain how they got three home games to start off the World Series. Maybe some All-Star Game tweak happened. “This time it REALLY counts,” or something. Anyway, Joc Pederson singled home a run, made a diving catch to rob Mike Zunino of a hit and threw Zunino out at the plate on another play. Zunino probably isn’t joining the Joc Pederson fan club.

Rockies 4, Giants 2: As we all expected, the amazingly good road team, the Colorado Rockies, swept the defending World Series champions. One night after that amazing catch he made running into the tarp, Nolan Arenado hit a three-run homer. This guy is one of the best-kept secrets in baseball.

Travis Wood wins final spot in Cubs’ rotation, Edwin Jackson heads to the bullpen

Travis Wood

MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that lefty Travis Wood has won the last remaining spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation. He’ll take the No. 4 spot ahead of Kyle Hendricks. Edwin Jackson, who lost out on the job to Wood, will head to the bullpen.

Wood allowed nine earned runs with a 13/3 K/BB ratio in 19 1/3 innings this spring. Jackson also allowed nine earned runs but had a 9/4 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings.

A year after finishing with a 3.11 ERA, Wood posted a 5.03 ERA for the Cubs last season. Wood has shown the ability to be an above-average starter but has struggled with consistency over his five-year major league career.

2015 Preview: Chicago Cubs

kris bryant

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Chicago Cubs.

The Big Question: Are they ready to contend?

It has been 106 years since the Cubs won a World Series championship — the longest title drought in North American professional sports — and they haven’t appeared in a Fall Classic since 1945.

Is this their year? Is it finally gonna happen?

Answering that would require predicting the unpredictable — MLB’s playoffs — but the 2015 Cubs could very well be in the conversation when October comes. From the starting lineup to the starting rotation to the much-talked-about farm system, there’s talent everywhere in this organization — an organization that has been built and rebuilt and rebuilt again.

Cubs president Theo Epstein has done this latest rebuild properly, amassing a pool of young, cost-controlled players who appear capable of feeding an extended run of success. Kris Bryant, pictured above, was ranked the game’s No. 1 prospect in late February by Baseball America after batting .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI in 138 games last season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He should be up in the majors for good around mid-April. Five other Cubs prospects made Baseball America’s 2015 Top 100 — shortstop Addison Russell (No. 3 overall), outfielder Jorge Soler (No. 12), catcher Kyle Schwarber (No. 19), right-hander C.J. Edwards (No. 38), and outfielder Billy McKinney (No. 83). Schwarber and McKinney aren’t expected to contribute at the major league level this season, but the others should.

Soler, who signed a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs in 2012 after defecting from Cuba, posted a .903 OPS with five home runs and 20 RBI over his first 24 games for Chicago in 2014. He will be the starting right fielder when the 2015 campaign kicks off on April 5, and the 23-year-old is already being trusted at cleanup.

Batting third in front of Soler will be 25-year-old first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who broke out last season with a .913 OPS and 32 home runs. One of Epstein’s first moves as Cubs president was acquiring Rizzo from the Padres, and Theo locked Rizzo up about a year-and-a-half after the trade to a team-friendly seven-year, $41 million contract extension with club options for 2020 and 2021. Epstein personally selected Rizzo in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft when he was still the general manager of the Red Sox.

Bryant, Soler, and Rizzo should be the cornerstones of the Northsiders’ offense going forward and they’ll probably be plenty potent in their first year together at the major league level.

What else is going on?

  • Another potential offensive cornerstone is 22-year-old infielder Javier Baez, who was rated the the No. 5 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2014 season. He struck out 95 times in 52 games as a rookie, but Baez possesses rare bat speed and jaw-dropping minor league numbers. In 2013, he put up a .920 OPS, 37 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in 130 games between High-A and Double-A. The hope is that he can develop a little more plate discipline and settle in as the Cubs’ long-term second baseman.
  • Not satisfied with waiting for some of the internal options to grow, Epstein and Co. executed a pair of well-received trades over the winter that shored up holes at catcher and center field. Veteran backstop Miguel Montero, a two-time All-Star, was acquired from the Diamondbacks in December for right-handers Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley. Dynamic center fielder Dexter Fowler, a capable leadoff man, was picked up from the Astros in January for right-hander Dan Straily and third baseman Luis Valbuena.
  • The biggest offseason move for the Cubs was signing left-handed starter Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million free agent contract. That’s a ton of scratch for a 31-year-old pitcher, but the Cubbies print cash and they’ve been waiting to flaunt it. Lester registered a 2.46 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 220 strikeouts in 219 2/3 innings last summer between the Red Sox and A’s. He’s the ace the Cubs needed. Following him in the rotation will be Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, and Kyle Hendricks. Arrieta is a former top prospect of the Orioles who became a post-hype darling in 2014 with the Cubs, producing a 2.53 ERA, 0.989 WHIP, and 167 strikeouts in 156 2/3 innings. Hammel was traded away from the Cubs last July as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal and then re-signed this winter to a two-year, $18 million free agent contract. Hammel had a 2.98 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 108 2/3 innings last year for Chicago before struggling out in Oakland. It’s a sneaky-good group, and the Cubs have the chips to make in-season upgrades.
  • Joe Maddon worked miracles with young, low-budget teams in Tampa Bay and seems like the perfect manager to lead the Cubs into this new era of success. He signed a five-year, $25 million contract with Chicago last November after using an opt-out to escape the Rays following their big front office change.
  • Wrigley Field is in the first phase of a massive renovation that probably won’t be fully completed until 2019. The bleachers and brand new video boards were the main focus this offseason, and a combination of bad winter weather and structural issues caused predictable delays. The bleachers aren’t going to be finished until sometime in June, so there will be an eeriness in the outfield on Opening Night against the rival Cardinals and for the following eight-plus weeks. It’s a 101-year-old building, but anyone who has visited Wrigleyville knows that it’s worth preserving. Cubs fans are well-schooled in the virtue of patience.

Prediction: If everything goes right — Bryant becomes an instant star, Baez learns to lay off the junk, and shortstop Starlin Castro sharpens his game — the Cubs will be a factor in a deep divisional race. But they’re probably one more year away from making the big jump. This team finishes third in the National League Central and just out of the reach for the second National League Wild Card spot with 84 total wins.