Archive | Travis Wood

Cubs Shelled by Reds as Bullpen Falters Late; Drop Opener 13 – 6

Posted on 01 September 2015 by Bob

One night after Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter and a red-eye flight from LA back to Chicago, it was probably expecting too much for this team to play aesthetically pleasing baseball, let alone get a win.  The Cubs offense did their part, tallying six runs which on most occasions would be more than enough for a win, but the bullpen completely crumbled as Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, and James Russell gave up 10 runs combined after Kyle Hendricks’ modest five innings of five-hit, three-run ball. Yes, six of those runs came in the ninth with the Cubs already trailing by two and the game seemingly over, but it’s still not a good sign when on the cusp of September the back end of your bullpen remains dicey.

Grimm struggles vs. REDS

The game was scoreless through three innings and 1 – 1 after four when Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips broke the game open with a two-out, two-run RBI single to put the Reds out in front. The Cubs would battle back in the bottom half of the inning as Addison Russell had a two-run, RBI double to knot the game back up. Kyle Schwarber would single in another run, as would Kris Bryant, to tip the balance back in the Cubs favor, 5 – 3.

It all went out the window after Hendricks left the game and Grimm came on to start the sixth inning immediately walking Ivan De Jesus before serving up a homer to Eugenio Suarez. History would repeat itself as Grim allowed Tucker Barnhart to reach on a single to right before pinch hitter Adam Duvall went deep to left field with a two-run shot of his own to put the Reds in front for good. The score remained as such until the ninth inning; one of the worst you will see all year from this Cubs team as Travis Wood walked three batters while collecting only two outs. James Russell came on only needing to get one man out but gave up an RBI single and a double in addition to not one, but two errors from second baseman Starlin Castro that lead to runs.  Mercifully, Jay Bruce ground out to second to end the inning and the Cubs bullpen’s woeful night. Addison Russell added a solo home run off of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth to provide a minor silver lining. The Reds took the game 13 – 6.

Castro struggles

Cubs manager offered his assessment and from the sounds of it, he didn’t like the book:

“(It was) kind of a bad ending,” Maddon said. “It didn’t start too good, the middle part of the book was actually a pretty good read and then eventually it became a nasty ending. I’m over it already. Just throw that one away.”

That’s what the Cubs will look to do tonight as the calendar has finally flipped to September and the finish line has come into focus. They stand 5.5 games behind the Pirates for the top Wild Card spot, and are 5.5 games ahead of San Francisco for the second and final Wild Card position. They are firmly entrenched in a playoff race, something that would have sounded very hard to believe at this time last year.

They look to get back on track tonight in a make or break start for the struggling Dan Haren as the roster expands to 40. He will face Anthony DeSclafani for the Reds with a 7:05PM CST start. Hopefully, we will get a look at the newly acquired outfielder, Austin Jackson at some point for the Cubs. Javy Baez will also start at second base due to the roster expansion.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

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Win Streak Ends But Cubs Don’t Go Down Without a Fight

Posted on 06 August 2015 by Bob

The Pirates jumped on the Cubs early Thursday night as Gregory Polanco went deep in the first at-bat for Pittsburgh against Cubs’ newcomer, Dan Haren. Pedro Alvarez added an RBI single in the first inning as well to give the Bucs and early 2 -0 lead. Andrew McCutchen homered to center in the third to make it 3 -0 before Anthony Rizzo finally put the Cubs on the board with an RBI-Sac fly in the top of the fourth. Haren was not at his best and is prone to give up the long ball but was able to go more than two innings so it’s progress in that department.

Schwarber slide

Even after getting down 4 – 1, the Cubs battled back behind Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo’s big bats. Each of the sluggers hit home runs in the sixth inning (Schwarber’s was a two-run shot), to tie up the game and show the Pirates that these Cubs are coming for them. Unfortunately, the Cubs bullpen let them down as Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, and Jason Motte all gave up a run in their respective appearances in the later half of the game, putting the Cubs in a three-run hole, 7 – 4.

The Cubs stuck with it though as the top of ninth saw Starlin Castro single and Matt Szczur double, to put men on second and third with only one out. Addison Russell then grounded out to the shortstop allowing Castro to score from third to tighten up the game, but Dexter Fowler came to the plate as the tying run and struck out swinging to end the threat and the game, 7 – 5. The Cubs win streak was snapped at six.

Dan haren

It’s hard to nitpick the Cubs, who battled fiercely in this one but came up short, especially since they just completed one of the most successful road trips they have had in years. They went 5 – 1 on their stops in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh to up their N.L. leading road record to 31 – 24. Now they need to apply the same tenacity on the road to their home contests as starting tonight the team will be in Chicago until August 23rd, with 13 homes games at Wrigley and 3 “road” contests on the South Side vs. the White Sox. Hopefully, this will lead to a more comfortable and relaxed squad, free from the toll that excessive travel can take on the body.  Throw in playing in front of the home crowd who are hungry for a winner and this could be a special opportunity for the Cubs to turn up the heat on their division rivals, something voiced by Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo over the last few days.

“It’s definitely something you circled and highlighted,” Rizzo said. “I’ve been looking forward to it all year, really. It will be nice to be home for that long.”

It all starts tonight against a team the Cubs have been dancing with in the Wild Card Standings for what seems like all season. The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants come to town for a four game set that could see one of these clubs open up a little breathing room in the standings that currently have the Giants a half game ahead of our Cubs. Tonight the Cubs trot out Jason Hammel to square off against the Giants’ Chris Heston. First pitch is 7:05PM CST.

Go Cubs Go!

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Bryant Goes Deep Twice to Lead Cubs over Kershaw, Dodgers

Posted on 23 June 2015 by Bob

The slump-busting continued last night as Kris Bryant became the latest Cub to bounce back from a rough patch to blast the Cubs to victory, and what a victory it was. Facing the reigning NL MVP and CY Young winner in Clayton Kershaw, nobody would have batted an eye if the Cubs dropped the opener to the Dodgers given the stuff he has and how well the Dodgers have played to date, but these Cubs don’t bow to anyone and Kris Bryant let that be known as he jacked a curveball into the right field bleachers to turn a 1 run deficit into a 2-1 lead.

KB vs. CK

Bryant’s blast broke an 0 for 13 slump and after he added another homer to left in the bottom of the eighth inning, he had his first multi-homer game in the Bigs and firmly planted himself in the middle of All-Star and Rookie of the Year conversations.  Matt Szczur also homered off Kershaw which provided enough cushion for a Cubs bullpen that was outstanding after Tsuyoshi Wada left the game in the third inning with cramping in his left arm.  Travis Wood came on for three innings of relief followed by James Russell, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Jason Motte who combined to collectively throw seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. After your starter goes down you expect it to be a long, tough game on your pen, but the Cubs relievers stepped up and nabbed them a huge win, 4 – 2 to put them eight games over .500 which is only good enough for third place in arguably the toughest division in baseball.

You can’t draw up a better way to start a series after taking down a top team’s ace in the opener and your top hitters brimming with confidence. Tonight the Cubs will send Jason Hammel up against the Dodgers Zack Greinke in what should be an excellent pitching match up.  The Cubs hope to make it four straight victories against a team that hasn’t dropped back to back contests when their two Aces pitch in succession.

First Pitch is 7:05PM.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Complete Near Perfect Homestand; Get the Day Off

Posted on 18 May 2015 by Bob

The Cubs are off today after playing for the last seventeen straight days, and they have earned it. After struggling a bit on their road trip to St. Louis and Milwaukee, the Cubs got hot as they returned home in sweeping a four game series with the Mets and then taking two of three from the Pirates this past weekend. Their six game win streak helped to chip away at the Cardinals’ division lead which is now just four games.

Anthony_Rizzo

They did it with pitching, hitting, and defense making this the most complete Cubs team we have seen in years. Sure, there is room to improve (See: Bullpen), but everyone gets a break after a homestand as entertaining as this one. Anthony Rizzo continues to put this team on his back collecting nine hits, six walks, and five RBI’s the last seven days making him on OBP machine with .563. He and Kris Bryant back to back are as formidable as any heart of the order you will see in baseball these days.  With Travis Wood set to join the bullpen and Tsuyoshi Wada grabbing a starter’s spot, the Cubs are still tinkering with issues at the back end of their rotation and relief corp. This move should help address both as Wada has had pretty good numbers during his rehab and Wood should provide some long relief if another starter continues to struggle.

We are rolling through May now and the Cubs have put themselves in a great position at least for a wild card spot. Another month of solid play and we should see them as buyers at the deadline for the first time in a long time. Until then they just need to stay hungry and keep riding their big bats as far as they can take them.

Next Up: Jason Hammel takes on Jame Shields as the Cubs open a three game series in San Diego on Tuesday night. First Pitch is 9:10PM CST, a late start for mid-Westerners with the team on the west coast all week.

Go Cubs Go!

 

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Cubs Pitching Collapses in Back and Forth Loss to Cardinals

Posted on 05 May 2015 by Bob

Arizzo vs. cards

The Cubs bats finally woke up from their weekend long nap in time to bat around the order and notch five runs in the first inning Monday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis vs. the Cardinals. The only problem is they couldn’t make it stand up. Twice.

Cubs Pitcher Travis Wood followed the Cubs excellent offensive explosion by imploding on the mound and serving up a grand slam to Mark Reynolds to put the Cards within a run. After Anthony Rizzo homered to make it 6-4, the Cubs added two more over the next three innings to obtain what should have been a safe 8 – 4 lead entering the later half of the game but the Cards struck back with two runs of their own in the sixth inning before rocking the Cubs bullpen for another four runs in the seventh and turning that comfy lead into a two run deficit that the Cubs couldn’t overcome. A wasted effort to be sure.

wood vs. Cards

Addison Russell added a solo shot in the ninth to make the score a bit closer but the Cubs got nothing else going and dropped a game they should have won to the team with the best record in the majors and also the one they are looking up to in the NL Central standings. To say that pitching was the problem is an understatement, as everyone from the starter Wood, to Strop and Rosscup in the bullpen, bear responsibility for this tough loss.  “Starters need to [be] going deeper,” Maddon said. He’s correct, but the bullpen needs to shows some consistency as well especially with a lead.

A silver lining is that this team shows the same type of fight as the team that defeated them last night.  As Cardinals first baseman Mark Reynolds stated after the win, “We’re never out of it.” His sentiments could very well be said about the Cubs as they continue to battle in games after getting down. There are no moral victories however; you just hope that the players can learn from losses like this and do enough next time to make sure it’s the other team ruing what might have been.

 

Next Up:

Kyle Hendricks is on the bump for the Cubs vs. the Cardinals Tyler Lyons, a Triple-A call up making his season debut. First pitch is 7:15PM CST.

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Wood Powers Cubs to Fourth Win in Five Tries

Posted on 16 April 2015 by Bob

Travis Wood bounced back from his first start to power the Cubs past the Reds allowing only three hits through the beginning of the eighth inning while striking out seven. Anthony Rizzo provided some early run support with a two-run shot and the Cubs never looked back as they shut out the Reds and laid claim to first place atop the NL Central Division.

Travis Wood

Starlin Castro had an outstanding game as well providing two hits and a walk but his biggest contribution was his glove.

“How about our shortstop? He had a hell of a game at shortstop tonight. Played both left and right, had some great throws, double play was huge,” said Manager Joe Maddon, referencing a double-play ball snared by Castro that ended the Reds threat.

Starlin-Castro

This was a complete team effort from top to bottom and sends the Cubs into an off day brimming with confidence before a weekend series at Wrigley versus the new look San Diego Padres.

Friday’s game pits newly acquired Padre: James Shields vs. Jason Hammel with first pitch at 1:20 PM.

 

 

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Cubs Fall to Rockies in First Game on the Road

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Bob

The Cubs fell the to the Rockies 5 – 1 on Friday behind home runs from Troy Tulowitski and Justin Morneau for the Rockies as the Cubs once again struggled to score runs. Travis Wood lasted four and 2/3 innings allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Opening Day at Coors Field.

It’s still early so we’ll reserve judgement for now but it’s pretty clear that the Cubs major issue is scoring runs after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. The pitching should be a strength once guys get into a routine but it’s the hitting that is costing the Cubs right now.

A few more outings like this and you’ll hear the clamor for Kris Bryant rise to a fever pitch and the Cubs service time deadline can’t come soon enough.

Here’s to hoping for some positive news after tonight’s game.  First pitch is 7:10PM and Jason Hammel takes on Kyle Kendrick  as the Cubs continue their series with the Rockies at Coors Field.

Jason Hammel

 

 

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