CHICAGO – The Cubs lost a series opener for the first time in six tries, falling to the Miami Marlins 7-5 on Tuesday in manager Ozzie Guillen's return to Chicago.
How it happened: A long layoff didn’t do Travis Wood any favors, as the left-hander returned to action for the first time in 11 days and was rocked. After not giving up more than three runs over any of his last seven outings, Wood was pounded to the tune of eight runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. Jeff Baker, who entered the game in the fifth inning as part of a double switch when Wood was removed, hit a home run in his first at-bat. The Cubs had a chance to cut the Marlins' lead to one in the eighth inning but Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double play.
What it means: Wood had made steady improvement this season by working on the outer half of the plate to right-handers, but he didn’t get away with it Tuesday. The Marlins' Carlos Lee turned on a ball, pulling it into the left-field seats for a fifth-inning grand slam. Wood had taken to his new approach quickly and effectively. The shock isn’t that it failed him Tuesday but that he had so few growing pains with it to this point, outside of spring training, of course.
Outside the box: Wood’s rocky outing snapped a string of solid starts from the Cubs' rotation. Cubs starters had posted a 1.13 ERA over the last five games (four earned runs in 32 innings). The pitching staff also had a 3.45 ERA over the last 16 games when the club had posted a 12-4 record, best in baseball over that stretch. When Wood gave up a run in the third inning it ended the starters’ combined streak of 21 consecutive scoreless innings.
Off beat: Since the Nationals’ Bryce Harper has disappointed him, perhaps Marlins manage Ozzie Guillen will adopt a new rookie crush, this one on the Cubs’ Rizzo. Asked before the game if Rizzo is an example of the right way for rookies to handle themselves, Guillen said he had yet to see the first baseman play. He has now, with Rizzo staying within himself and going the other way for a pair of singles, although he also grounded into two double plays.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (6-8, 4.71 ERA) to the mound Wednesday against the Marlins in the second game of the three-game series. Florida will counter with right-hander John Johnson (5-6, 4.28) in the 7:05 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.