Best of the Best: Cubs Wood Edges Cardinals


May 7, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood (37) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Dale Sveum’s post game comment that Travis Wood is “the best starter in baseball pretty much” has raised some eyebrows even through this morning. While the left handed starter himself would not let himself buy into the high praise, the confidence he has displayed on the mound so far this season certainly puts Wood in the conversation of current top tier starters. The lefty did his part in making his case for the argument, limiting one of the best teams in baseball to just five scattered hits and one run in six plus innings of work. Wood picked up eight strikeouts while he was at it and saw his ERA drop to 2.33. Only his 114 pitch count stood in the way of the Cubs pitcher taking care of the Cardinals line up all by himself.

For Cubs fans, it was easy for Wood’s effort to overshadow just as solid an effort from Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. The St. Louis righty nearly matched Wood tit for tat on Tuesday night. When all was said and done, it was a Nate Schierholtz two run homer in the bottom of the fourth to center that proved to be separation Wood needed to collect his third win of the season. Wood left the mound in the top of the seventh to a well deserved standing ovation and the crowd reaction made an interesting 180 degree transition into boos when they saw Carlos Marmol make his way to the middle of the diamond from the Cubs third base side bullpen.

However Marmol would not ruin a Wood gem on this night, as he proceeded to finish off the seventh inning and handle the eighth for the Cubs with no meltdown despite allowing two hits and a walk. That set the stage for closer Kevin Gregg to come in for the save and the veteran righty made sure there was no further drama, closing the door on the Cardinals with an efficient top of the ninth that included a strikeout. Gregg already has five saves now despite being a mid April pick up by the Cubs, providing some peace and calm in the closers role that has been otherwise volatile under Marmol, Shawn Camp, and Kyuji Fujikawa.