Travis Wood used his bat, glove and left arm to help the Cubs beat the Mets 7-4 Thursday night at Wrigley Field. Apparently that’s what it takes to pull off a rare sweep for the Cubs.
Wood drove in three runs with a two-run homer and a fielder’s choice grounder. Defensively, he thwarted a Mets scoring chance in the second inning with a deft defensive move. And he pitched five innings to keep his team in the game on a night when his control was very shaky.
“It was a good day, you know, a big hit there in the second,” Wood said of his second homer of the year. “And I was fortunate enough to get a glove on that ball that was going up the middle and it went for a double play. (But) five walks can’t happen.”
Anthony Rizzo’s home run in the seventh inning and Junior Lake’s two-run triple in the eighth proved the difference as the Cubs captured their first series sweep of the season. It also marked the first time the Cubs swept the Mets at Wrigley Field since April 23-25, 2004.
“I put a good swing on it and I didn’t try to do too much,” Rizzo said of his 11th homer of the season.
Wood allowed two runs on four hits in five-plus innings. He walked a season-high five batters and threw 92 pitches, prompting manager Rick Renteria to lift him after he had allowed a walk and two singles in the sixth that led to the two runs charged to him.
“I just said to (Wood): ‘You know, I’m going to help you out,'” Renteria said of the decision to bring in Brian Schlitter. “The situation could have escalated and gotten out of hand.”
Reliever Justin Grimm (2-2) was credited with the victory after blowing a save giving up two runs in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Wood raised his batting average to .273, but Renteria dismissed suggestions he should consider batting Wood eighth in the batting order.
“Let’s think about the theory of putting the pitcher eighth,” Renteria said. “The assumption is that the pitcher cannot hit. And you’re going to have the ninth hitter be the better hitter than the pitcher. In this instance, Woody is a pretty good hitter. Jeff (Samardzija) is a pretty good hitter. (Josh) Hammel is a pretty good hitter. I think I’ll leave ’em in the ninth hole.”
Renteria said he and his staff take pride in the fielding ability of all of their pitchers. With two men on and no outs in the second inning, Wilmer Flores rapped a hard-hit ball up the middle that Wood was able to deflect toward shortstop Starlin Castro to start a double play.
“They happen to be good athletes,” Renteria said. “Think about all of the (defensive) shifts now being played and how important it is for the pitcher to move off the hill a little bit.”
Cubs players tried to take the sweep of the Mets in stride.
“I know we won three games in a row, whether it is a sweep or not,” Rizzo said. “Especially in a series when we play good baseball. … They were close games and we won the close games that we haven’t been all year.”
Said Wood: “To take all three in a three-game series is pretty big. Especially for us.”