Travis Wood was dominant all night long as the lefty shut down the Reds, and led the Cubs to a 5-0 victory to take the series. It didn’t take long for the Cubs to grab a lead as Anthony Rizzo blasted his first home run of the season in the first, a majestic two-run shot to right. The Cubs flashed the leather all night behind Wood, Starlin Castro in particular, he made two outstanding plays to help preserve the shut out, and the lead. The only bad news in this one was an injury to Neil Ramirez, the right-hander left after just three pitches in the ninth inning. Ramirez will go for an MRI tomorrow, the initial diagnosis is right shoulder discomfort, that doesn’t sound great. First place!
At the Plate:
- Dexter Fowler is proving to be a solid lead-off hitter for the Cubs, he was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, and two runs scored.
- Anthony Rizzo finally got on the board with a dinger, he was 1-for-4 with said homer, a walk, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Jorge Soler continued his production, he was 1-for-3 with a walk, and an RBI.
- Starlin Castro had an outstanding game, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, and a run scored.
Rizzo goes way back!
On the Mound:
- All Travis Wood tonight, stellar. He worked seven scoreless innings, giving up just three hits while walking two and striking out seven.
- Phil Coke worked a solid scoreless inning in relief.
- Neil Ramirez got hurt in the ninth, so Brian Schlitter had to close it out, he worked a scoreless inning, giving up one hit while striking out one.
Solid pitching? Check. Just enough hitting? Check.
It seems simple, but the Cubs have played some solid baseball over the past 90 games (45-45 before tonight), and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down with their latest win in Cincinnati tonight, their fourth straight. Travis Wood found his 2013 magic against his former employer, he worked six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, while walking one, and striking out five. The Cubs pen shut, no, slammed the door once again, as Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon were lights out. Wood picked up his eighth win of the season, and Rondon registered his 22nd save of the year.
Offensively the Cubs got started in the first, and that was all they needed. Anthony Rizzo hit an absolute bomb off of Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto in the first, it was his 30th home run of the season, that’s impressive. Starlin Castro returned from the bereavement list tonight, and picked up right where he left off, he went 2-for-4 in the win. Arismendy Alcantara joined the fun late, as he blasted a two-run shot to give the Cubs some insurance in the seventh.
Get ready for Jorge Soler, he debuts tomorrow!
Note: Anthony Rizzo left the game late with some back tightness, he should be fine.
For whatever reason the Cubs are a much different team at home than on the road. It’s obvious given the record at home and on the road, but I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about their overall game. Tonight for example, they got behind early, and there was no panic, no giving up at bats, no mindless baseball. It really is like night at day, I hope that they can build on this at home and the road success comes with experience. Chris got the start tonight, okay I know what you are thinking, impossible, how could Volstad pitch AND the Cubs win the game. It happened folks, and Volstad played a big role, but did not earn a decision so he remains win less this year, and has not registered a win in over a calendar year. Volstad went six strong innings giving up three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four. The Cubs trailed 3-1 into the sixth inning before tying it up on a Starlin Castro ringing double that just missed leaving the yard for what would have been a three run homer to take the lead. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth when Alfonso Soriano connected on his 20th home run of the season to put the Cubs up for good 5-3. Soriano now has 20 home runs in eleven straight years, quite the accomplishment. Anthony Rizzo had a great night at the plate as he was seeing the ball well all game, he finished 2-for-2 with a double, two walks, and RBI, and two runs scored. Shawn Camp pitched a scoreless inning in relief for his 3rd win of the season and Carlos Marmol closed the door for his 14th save of the year. So long losing streak, full box score and highlights after the jump.
I’m sure that’s a huge relief for Paul Maholm, probably for the Cubs too. After two rough, well, bad outings the newly acquired Paul Maholm showed his employer and fans that he isn’t a complete disaster by going a strong six innings to tally his first win of the year and put a halt to the Cubs six game losing streak. The Cubs got to Reds starter Mike Leake early as they put up five runs in the first two innings, and that was all that Maholm and the Cubs needed for the victory. Full Recap and box score after the jump.
Big start for Samardzija, Dale Sveum said he wants to see Samardzija show command of his pitches and keep the ball down today against the Indians. Sveum continued, “He’s got to be able to use [off-speed pitches] in all situations,” Sveum said of Samardzija. “He learned a little bit of a lesson the last time out. You don’t overpower people in the big leagues unless you have a swing and miss fastball. He needs to use his movement, he needs to pitch inside, he needs to throttle bats. That’s what good pitchers do.”
Here’s how the Cubs lineup today:
Notes: Big, big roster decisions coming today, the Cubs brass will get together after the game today and all but finalize the 25 man roster. Sveum wants to treat the last 5 games or so as regular season games, so the roster needs to be set. Once it is set we will have all the info for you here on the blog so check back.
The Cubs exploded with the long ball in the 9th inning yesterday to beat the Reds 7-4. The Cubs entered the 9th inning tied at three, Welington Castillo led the 9th of with a HR, and Dave Sappelt rocked his former club with what turned out to be the game winning three run homer. Darwin Barney also chipped in with three hits on the afternoon.
Thanks for reading,
– George Cotugno
The good? A cubs late inning rally for a victory. The bad? Another Carlos Marmol implosion with a lead in late innings, the whispers will inevitably start now. Is Marmol the guy for the closer job once the season opens? History suggests that he should be given his experience as the closer, but last year was a huge step back, and so far this spring not much has changed. Theo, Jed, and Sveum have all gone on record saying how deflating a blown save is for a ball club, not just that day, but the days and weeks that follow. This is definitely something to keep an eye on as the Spring progresses, the Cubs need Marmol at the top of his game, if he’s not, he won’t be closing.