When did Travis Wood turn into Edwin Jackson?
By this, I mean: Wood appeared to be sailing along Saturday night, possibly even reversing the slide he's been in for almost two months, when that "one bad inning" ruined his and the Cubs' evening, leading to a 9-3 Cubs loss to the Diamondbacks, the team's fourth straight defeat.
Wood was sailing along and the Cubs had a 3-1 lead before the disastrous fifth inning put Arizona ahead to stay. He got himself in trouble with walks, sandwiched around a double by Ender Inciarte, loading the bases with no one out. Then the D'backs began to hit the ball hard. A line drive was speared by Anthony Rizzo for the first out, but Miguel Montero doubled deep to right, clearing the bases and putting Arizona in the lead. Another line drive was hit hard, but right to Mike Olt, who attempted to double Montero off second base, and would have easily done so because Montero was halfway to third.
Unfortunately, Olt's throw hit Montero and went into right field, putting Montero on third base. He likely would not have scored from second on Gerardo Parra's single, but on third, he trotted home to make it 5-3.
It likely wouldn't have made a huge difference, as Wood gave up two more runs in the sixth before being pulled, mercifully, by Rick Renteria.
Wait, maybe I do have an idea why Wood is struggling, Check out this postgame quote:
"Once we lost Hammel and Jeff, it's a big gap to fill," Wood said. "I really want to give you seven or eight innings and be as strong as I can every time and fill that void. So far, it hasn't been happening. I promise you we'll get there."
Sounds to me as if Wood is putting too much pressure on himself instead of going out and pitching the way he can, the way he did a year ago. Granted, Wood's struggles predate the trade, but you can't go out there trying to fill vacant spots in the rotation. That is, in my view, going to lead to games like this one.
In addition to his rough night pitching, Wood also got himself picked off first base after a second-inning single. I can't remember the last time I saw a pitcher get picked off base, if ever.
Zac Rosscup, who might wind up back at Triple-A Iowa when Kyle Hendricks and one other still-to-be-determined starter are recalled to fill those vacant rotation slots, completed the blowout by allowing a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth inning.
The Cubs did, at least, have a couple of highlights offensively. Welington Castillo homered, just his second since his return from the DL, and went 2-for-4. Castillo had a big second half a year ago and perhaps he can repeat that. Darwin Barney also had two hits and raised his BA to .230. That might not seem like a very good BA, but Barney's hadn't touched .230 since June 27, 2013, more than a year and 477 at-bats ago. He's getting close to a .600 OPS -- not great, either, but with his elite defense at least acceptable enough for a backup infielder, which is really what he should be. Will a team trade for this kind of performance? Or should the Cubs keep him around to be a utility infielder going forward?
Meanwhile, Olt, who drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, otherwise went 0-for-3 and struck out twice. It really seems futile to keep him on this roster, where he doesn't get playing time and doesn't play well when he is in the lineup. Send him back to Iowa so he can get regular at-bats and work with Manny Ramirez. The same could be true for Junior Lake, who tripled in three at-bats Saturday night.
As poorly as the Cubs have played all-time in Chase Field, they have been swept there in a three-game series just once since 2001 (in 2012). They'll try to avoid making that two sweeps in three years when Jake Arrieta takes on Josh Collmenter Sunday afternoon at 3:10 CT. The game preview will post at 1 p.m. CT.