Houston 0 @ Cubs 3

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right?

  • Remember when the justification for promoting Travis Wood was essentially “Well, he can’t be any worse than Chris Volstad“? He’s far exceeded those pessimistic expectations. In fact, he’s been one of the Cubs’ best starters.  Currently, he’s working on a streak of more than 19 scoreless innings. And counting. Sunday he was solid and efficient. Through 7 2/3s innings, he only surrendered 3 hits and no walks. He was perfect through the first 4 innings, and the crowd let out a loud groan when the Astros collected their first hit of the day. He got a little help from some impatient hitters and three catches by Darwin Barney in shallow RF, but Wood looked dominant again on Sunday. Let’s hope the trend–and the scoreless streak–continue into the second half.
  • Wood’s production wasn’t limited to the mound. He led off the Cubs’ big 6th inning with a double into the LF gap (his third double since he was called up) and scored the first run of the game on Anthony Rizzo’s single. He also showed some canniness on the basepaths, advancing from second to third on Reed Johnson’s groundout to Astros’ thirdbaseman Matt Downs, who didn’t look Wood back to second before he threw to first. It was a smart baserunning play, the kind we hardly ever see from a pitcher. Lizzie asked about fan-favorite Cubs a few days ago. I’m guessing Travis Wood is quickly climbing the charts.
  • The rest of that 6th inning was solid if unspectacular. Starlin Castro walked ahead of Rizzo’s single, and they both scored on Jeff Baker’s double.
  • Carlos Marmol saved all three games against the Astros. He’s not completely transformed, but he’s got much better control of his fastball, and he’s keeping hitters honest with it. I’m not ready to bank on him again–I still nervously move to the edge of the couch whenever he gets the call from the bullpen. But I’m hopeful that he can straighten things out enough that we could trade him away. I don’t expect it will work out, but at least I can hope.
  • The Cubs went 5-1 during this homestand. They haven’t done that all season, on the road or at home. All told it was their best week of the season. Fortunately, we have a lot more games left against the Astros.

What Went Wrong?

  • Dale assembled a Quade-tastic lineup for Sunday, with Jeff Baker as the Cubs’ cleanup hitter… Nah. You know what–let’s forget it. There will be plenty of opportunities to complain about Baker. Let’s just go with nothing and enjoy the win.

Game Notes

  • Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair were both named as reserves for the NL All Star team. Both were voted in by the players–Castro placed first among shortstops and LaHair cam in second among firstbasemen. I’m very glad to see Castro recognized by his peers, but I’m thrilled for LaHair. I think at this point the All Star game means the most to the players (it certainly doesn’t mean much of anything to most of us fans, despite what Montgomery Burns Bud Selig says). So good for LaHair–no matter where his career goes from here, he’s an MLB All Star for life. And for a guy who not that long ago looked like he might be a lifetime minor-leaguer, that’s got to be a pretty cool feeling.

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