Here's a quiz question, and no, it's not a trick question.
Why would you ever intentionally walk Darwin Barney to pitch to Travis Wood?
Before I answer that (the correct answer is, "You wouldn't,") let me introduce this article to you. It's by the esteemed writer Joe Posnanski, who a few weeks ago created "The Intentional Walk Rage System." (Can you tell he hates them?) He gives points to intentional walks based on the situation, the hitter walked, the next hitter due up, etc. It has a lot to do with Ned Yost (and that shouldn't surprise you), but can be applied in any intentional-walk situation.
The highest possible score on the rage scale is 25. The walk to Barney rated 13 points, about the middle of the scale, but it still shouldn't have been done. Barney was 2-for-16 coming into Saturday's game, and though you all know how I feel about the DH, Travis Wood is probably a better hitter in that situation than Barney, if for no other reason than Wood seems to be a tough dude, and he's probably thinking, "Walk Barney to pitch to me? I'll show you!"
And he did, singling in a run. After Luis Valbuena had homered earlier in the inning, it gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Wood was cruising on the mound, too. It didn't seem as if that run meant a whole lot.
But it did, after Carlos Quentin crushed a two-run, pinch-hit home run off Wood with one out in the eighth inning. The third run meant everything in the Cubs 3-2 win over the Padres, just their third one-run victory of 2014.
I'd have done the same thing Rick Renteria did, let Wood begin the eighth inning. He seemed dominant and it looked like the perfect time to give him a shot at a complete game and shutout. It didn't work, but the bullpen rose to the challenge. Neil Ramirez struck out the two hitters he faced to complete the eighth inning and Len and JD had barely introduced Hector Rondon in the ninth when the game was over -- Rondon completed a four-pitch save, his sixth of the season.
Know how rare that is? Rondon became only the fourth pitcher in Cubs history to record a save while getting three outs on four pitches. Here are the other three:
- Ryan Dempster vs. Astros, May 23, 2005
- Rod Beck vs. Expos, April 3, 1998 (and if you're wondering how a pitcher could throw one inning and get a save with a four-run lead, it's because the previous pitcher had started the ninth inning by putting two runners on base. Beck got out of it with a groundout and a double play)
- Bob Scanlan vs. Padres, August 24, 1992
And completing the circle, Scanlan is now a Padres broadcaster.
Nice game, Cubs. Valbuena walked twice and scored another of the runs, in addition to his homer, and Nate Schierholtz, who is hitting .278/.372/.361 over his last 11 games, had a pair of hits.
So the Cubs have a chance to win another series in Sunday afternoon's series finale. This time, they won't be facing a random starter from San Diego's bullpen or minor-league system, as Ian Kennedy will take the mound for them against Jason Hammel.
And once again, thanks, Padres, for intentionally walking Darwin Barney.