- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- In the battle of Travis Wood vs. his old team on Saturday, it appeared that both sides left with some bragging rights.
Pitching for the Chicago Cubs now, Wood held the Reds to one run on five hits over seven innings, while matching a career high with eight strikeouts. It was shades of his dominating run in late May and early June.
He couldn’t pitch forever, though, and in the eighth inning the Reds got the victory they were looking for with three runs off Cubs reliever James Russell to win 4-2.
“I’d probably be lying if I said there wasn’t (extra incentive),” Wood said. “It was first time facing them since leaving them and it was exciting.”
For Wood the incentive might have been to show his former team that he is doing just fine in his new setting, but the outing might have benefited him in more important ways.
As the Cubs look to set a starting rotation while moving forward in their rebuilding plan, Wood continues to show that he has something to offer long-term.
“You know as a whole, yes, I have progressed,” he said. “I’ve had some good games, I’ve had some bad games, but that’s just baseball. The bad games you just have to learn from it and try to do everything you can out there to help your team win.”
A rough spring training and a miserable three-start stretch in July when he gave up 22 runs were the low points. He now looks to be back on track after giving up five combined runs over his last three outings.
“He had a couple of tough ones here when the wind was howling out but he’s pitched pretty darn good since he was up here,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s had a few tough games and those were all with the wind blowing out. He’s done a really good job.”
The Cubs were also able to see that Wood can rise to the occasion, even if that occasion was for personal reasons.
“To step up like that against that right-handed lineup and his former team was great,” Sveum said. “He pitched as good as you possibly could when all nine guys in that lineup were right-handed. You had a pitcher that can swing the bat too. That was as impressive of an outing as he’s had all year.”
Starts like Saturday are showing the Cubs that Travis Wood has what it takes.