Bullpen Blows Another Dempster Gem, Cubs Lose 3-1

Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs reacts after giving up two runs to the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

I think everyone here knows how much I like Kerry Wood; I don't have a lot of "favorite players", but he's definitely one of them.

That's why it's really sad for me to say that I think Kerry might be reaching the end of the line. He hasn't pitched well all year, either before he went on the DL with more back trouble or since his return, and his inning of work Tuesday night was the difference in the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the Braves.

Wood was uncharacteristically short with reporters after the game. After explaining some of the things that led to the walks which finally resulted in the two Atlanta runs off him, Wood was asked about throwing his glove and cap into the stands following the inning. This was the result:

Asked about the glove-toss afterward, he replied: "Irrelevant, dude. Why the (bleep) would you even bring that up?"

Wood promptly cut off questions from the media and stalked off.

I can understand him being upset about the entire evening, but this really isn't like Wood, who has always answered questions about anything. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear we might be seeing the end of Wood's career looming.

And so Ryan Dempster, who went back into the league lead in ERA at 1.02 by throwing seven outstanding innings, got another no-decision. That's four of those in five starts; the other resulted in a loss.

This further points up the almost-completely-meaningless stat of individual pitcher wins. What if the Cubs had come back and taken the lead in the bottom of the eighth and won the game? Then Wood would have been credited with the "win", even though he pitched terribly. Didn't happen, but this sort of thing does happen all the time.

The Cubs couldn't do much with Randall Delgado, finally tying the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on, of all things, an opposite-field double by Alfonso Soriano after Tony Campana singled down the left-field line. Campana's ball nearly got by Martin Prado; if it had, Campana might have had a shot at another inside-the-park home run.

The Cubs also had an excellent opportunity in that bottom of the eighth. With runners on first and second and one out, Bryan LaHair stepped to the plate. LaHair's been great at working counts and getting a good pitch to hit; this time, he failed, smashing Jonny Venters' first pitch on the ground for a double play.

Of the 38,523 announced Tuesday night, about 31,000 showed up -- one of the larger turnouts of this early season; the weather was pleasant, if a bit coolish. The wind was blowing out to right field pretty good, at least in the early innings, but no one took advantage of it.

As I said, I hope I'm wrong about Kerry Wood; he actually had a pretty good year in 2011 as a setup man and the team was obviously hoping he'd do the same this year. Even though his velocity appears fine -- he hit 96 a couple times on the Wrigley pitch-speed meter -- he can't seem to locate his pitches, resulting in too many walks, and when they are in the zone, hitters mash them. That's not good.

The teams will play the rubber game of the series Wednesday afternoon; the game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CDT.

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