It’s almost a shame that the all-star break is upon us as the Cubs are paying their best baseball of the 2012 season. With the win the Cubs won the series from the Mets, and finished their last road trip of the first half with a winning record (4-3). The Cubs put this one away early as they pounded out five hits and four runs in the first inning off of Mets starter Jonathan Niese who had been lights out in his last seven starts. The four runs must have felt like 10 for Ryan Dempster who was making his return from the disabled list, as Dempster has been the recipient of horrible run support all year. Dempster was on a pitch/inning limit today so he only pitched five scoreless innings on four hits while walking none and striking out four. Dempster extended his scoreless innings streak to 27, thus possibly increasing his trade value, the Cubs will most likely cash in on Dempster’s great season before the trade deadline passes. With the Cubs leading 4-0 in the seventh Starlin Castro finished off his first half with an exclamation point as he absolutely crushed a three-run homer to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead and that’s how it would end. Castro finished the day 2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI’s and a run scored. Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson also chipped in with two hits in the victory, the Cubs finished the first half winning nine of their last fourteen. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Many people labeled the Sean Marshall trade in the off-season as a loss for Theo Epstein and company solely based on the fact that Sean Marshall was named the closer for the Reds and that Travis Wood didn’t make the Cubs out of Spring Training. Fast forward to tonight, and things aren’t looking like a loss at all for the Cubs as Travis Wood continued to take advantage of his opportunity in the rotation by shutting down the Mets en route to a 6-1 victory. Wood shut out the Mets over seven strong innings, only allowing five hits while walking one and striking out six. With the win Wood improved to 2-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.54. Offensively the Cubs had maybe their best approach and game against a lefty all year. Johan Santana came into the game pitching very well, but the Cubs made the veteran lefty work, they earned four walks in addition to pounding out seven hits and six runs. Alfonso Soriano had another solid night at the plate as he shows no signs of slowing down, he went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Joe Mather had the big hit as he was 1-for-3 with his 4th home run of the season to put the Cubs up 2-0 in the fourth inning. That’s all they needed behind Travis Wood, a solo shot from Ike Davis off of James Russell in the ninth spoiled the shut out bid. It’s Anthony Rizzo day tomorrow as the Cubs top prospect makes his season debut, we will have full coverage. Full box score and highlights after the jump.