It didn’t take long for Travis Wood to get comfortable at the plate. The left-hander slotted in for Game 2 starter Kyle Hendricks, who was forced to leave in the fourth inning after taking a line drive off of his right forearm.
Wood closed the fourth inning with a six-pitch strikeout to Conor Gillaspie, then did some damage of his own against Giants’ right-handed reliever George Kontos:
In case you were wondering, that was a first-pitch cutter that left the yard at approximately 101 m.p.h., according to Statcast. It was also Wood’s first postseason home run, and the tenth he’s hit in the majors so far.
Per Twitter reports from MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, among others, Wood was listed with Kerry Wood and Rick Sutcliffe as the only Cubs’ hurlers to homer in the playoffs, and the first to do so since 2003. Even more impressive: Travis Wood is just the second relief pitcher to hit one out in the postseason, preceded by 1924 New York Giants’ right-hander Rosy Ryan (per ESPN’s Jayson Stark).
Wood wasn’t the only Cubs pitcher to knock in a few runs, as Hendricks beat him to it with a 2-RBI base hit in the second inning.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.