Cubs starter Travis Wood continued his run of excellent starts on Tuesday night. The lefty battled Rangers lefty Derek Holland in a pitchers duel at a cold Wrigley and really only had one mistake that cost Wood one run through seven innings. After allowing two singles to start the game, the former Red induced a double play ball to get him on his way out of the jam.
Wood would dance around five hits and three walks allowed to the AL pennant holding Rangers before making way to Shawn Camp in the eighth. Unfortunately the Cubs right handed reliever continued his struggles from the blown save on Sunday, first allowing the inherited runner to score, and then serving up a two run homer on a hanging slider to Adrian Beltre.
Meanwhile the productive Cubs offense we saw over the warm weekend mirrored the cold night on Tuesday. The home team struggled to figure out Holland, only managing two hits and almost not allowing the Rangers starter to break a sweat. Just about the only positive through this point in the game was the scoreless debut by new Cub Kameron Loe despite two hits allowed in one inning of work.
After two quick outs in the ninth, it would have been crazy to think the Cubs would salvage any pride tonight. So here I come with the silver lining talk again. Yes the efforts by these Cubs, however flawed, may not be reflected in the win column, but despite all the struggles the one strong shining beam of hope is this team’s fighting spirit. As cheesy as that sounds, we are really seeing an alteration of the mentality of the players under this new front office working to eliminate the Lovable Losers culture from the past.
Cubs cornerstone Starlin Castro got the rally started with a bloop single down the right field line after going 0 for 3. The .174 hitting Anthony Rizzo did not give away the at bat and earned a walk. After falling behind 0-2 to Rangers closer Joe Nathan, Alfonso Soriano willed an infield single in the hole at short. Pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz, really the only consistent offensive threat so far in this young season, also battled an 0-2 count before doubling in the Cubs first two runs. All of the sudden it is a 4-2 ballgame, with the series of events all going down with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Yes the Cubs hopes for a comeback attempt died with a battling at bat by Darwin Barney that ended with a great diving play by the Rangers center fielder that would have at least tied the game. Yes the Cubs should have taken this approach at the plate earlier in the game. Yes the Cubs bullpen needed to hold the deficit at one or two runs. But the team is finding ways to battle and fight. These heartbreaking losses are bound to turn into some wins by the end of the month or in May. No, the Cubs will not become contenders then, but they are not going to lose 100 games again either.
Let’s all follow this team’s lead in the attitude department and hang with our ball club. We all knew of the long term rebuild we were being signed up for, like it or not, when Theo Epstein was appointed President. We are starting to see some of the efforts starting to sprout.