Wood hits, pitches Cubs to victory
May, 30, 2013
By Jesse Rogers
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesTravis Wood won his fifth game of the season and hit his second home run.CHICAGO -- There's one Chicago Cubs player who isn't happy his team's starting rotation is putting up record offensive numbers in the month of May.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo is getting shown up at the plate.
"I don't like it to be honest with you," Rizzo said after the Cubs' 8-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. "Embarrassing all of us."
Rizzo was kidding -- at least for now because after Travis Wood's fourth-inning grand slam, Cubs pitchers have 19 RBIs in the month of May, the most since the 1940 Detroit Tigers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And according to ESPN Stats and Information it's two more than the Cubs' No. 3 hitter has all month.
"It's great," Rizzo said. "It's unbelievable to be honest. They're loose and having fun and keeping everyone else loose."
Wood is the best of the group. He hit his second home run of the season on Thursday off Jake Peavy and is batting .292 for the season after collecting a single as well.
"Our whole staff has been hitting," Wood said. "We take pride in our hitting. Just being able to help ourselves out. That way we're not just a dead out."
As impressive as the grand slam was, his day on the mound may have been even better. The wind was blowing out at 24 mph to start the game and Wood admittedly didn't have his best stuff. His gameplan went out the window early.
"Keep the ball down, I wasn't," he said. "I didn't do that very well for the first three and half innings, four innings. I was fortunate they were missing balls or popping them up."
Missing spots and keeping the ball up on a day like this would have killed Wood a year ago, in fact it did. But this is a different Wood. One that's getting whispers for the All-Star Game.
"I was kind of all over the place in my mind today," Wood said.
Yet his final line was as impressive as any he's had: six innings, five hits, two runs, and none his pitches left the park.
But it's the hitting from the rotation that had everyone buzzing in the clubhouse after the sweep of the Sox. It's been a near historic month for them at the plate. Their 19 RBI are 15 more than any other staff while Wood (seven) and Scott Feldman (six) have more, by themselves, than any staff for the month. And all four of the Cubs' home runs by pitchers have come since May 15.
"We expect it out of our pitching rotation," catcher Welington Castillo said. "Every time they step to home plate we expect it to happen."
Wood gave some aggressive high-fives as he reached home after his grand slam, the first by a Cubs pitcher since 2008 and first at home since 1972.
"I was a little excited," he said with a smile. "A little. It put us up. We were only up two. Fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball and then we were up six. It's nice, especially when it's your game."
With all that success at the plate manager Dale Sveum was asked if he might move his pitchers up in the batting order. He laughed off the suggestion.
"They're doing just fine in their spots right now," he said.
Can't argue with that.