Left-hander Travis Wood showed more than a glimpse of why he was named a National League All-Star two seasons ago on Sunday, tossing five shutout innings in a 2-1 Chicago Cubs win over the division rival Cincinnati Reds.
Wood (1-0) scattered just three hits over his five scoreless frames, striking out four and walking just one – while lowering his earned run average on the spring to a remarkable 1.80 (in 10 innings of work).
The only offense for Chicago (5-8) came in the bottom of the third against Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto (0-2) – via a two-run blast from Chris Denorfia, who is vying for a bench outfield spot this spring; with a potential platoon role in left not out of the question either.
The veteran outfielder took a 2-1 pitch from the Reds’ right-hander, depositing it into the left field seats for his first homer of the spring – adding to the Cubs’ league-leading home run total so far in Cactus League play.
For Cueto, this season could carry bigger workloads – both physically and mentally. With a surrounding cast that is vastly different than a year ago, he will be counted on this year more than ever before – to lead the Reds’ pitching staff in a reloaded and revamped National League Central.
Cincinnati (5-7) pushed across one run in the ninth and almost tied the ballgame up against left-hander Zac Rosscup, who eventually went on to nail down the save. With a runner at second and one out, Brennan Boesch lined a ball into right field, prompting Ruby Silva to charge hard – firing a throw to home plate.
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The throw one-hopped to the catcher, Kyle Schwarber, who applied the tag to Ivan DeJesus Jr. – who was trying to score from second on the play. Rosscup then retired Donald Lutz on strikes to close the door and give Chicago the win.
What Stood Out:
Despite getting the win on Sunday, the Cubs’ offense managed just one base hit. That’s right. One.
Denorfia’s two-run homer was the only knock Chicago managed against Cueto and four Cincinnati relievers – which isn’t a promising sign, even in spring action. Cubs hitters struck out just five times (with no single player whiffing more than once) – while drawing a trio of walks.
Chicago returns to Cactus League action on Monday, taking on the new-look San Diego Padres (6-6) behind right-hander Brandon Morrow, who was brought onboard this offseason to shore up the starting rotation.
The Cubs, meanwhile, counter with ace left-hander Jon Lester, who has not allowed a run yet this spring. First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m. CT from Peoria Stadium in Peoria, Ariz.