Travis Wood adjusts, settles down, gets ‘W’
BY TONI GINNETTI For Sun-Times Media May 18, 2014 8:50PM
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 18: Welington Castillo (center) of the Chicago Cubs is greeted after hitting a two-run homer against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning on May 18, 2014 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Updated: June 23, 2014 1:27PM
Left-hander Travis Wood couldn’t find the strike zone in the first inning Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, walking the bases loaded. But it was a different story from the second through the seventh inning.
Wood didn’t walk another Brewer — and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth — and was rewarded in a 4-2 victory that gave the Cubs the rubber game of the three-game series.
It was only the second series win for the Cubs and their first victory in 13 games against Brewers starter Marco Estrada (3-2).
‘‘Anytime you can win a series, it’s big,’’ Wood said. ‘‘Hopefully, we take it in stride and keep going.’’
Wood (4-4) retired 19 of the last 21 batters he faced, giving up only a double in the fifth to Logan Schafer before Rickie Weeks followed with a home run.
‘‘It was a struggle in the first, but we made a minor [delivery] adjustment, and we were able to roll on after that,’’ Wood said.
Welington Castillo had a two-run homer in the second inning, and Mike Olt hit a solo shot in the fourth. Starlin Castro, who lifted his average to .302, had two of the Cubs’ five doubles.
‘‘I’m feeling good at home plate and not thinking too much, not putting pressure on myself,’’ said Castro, who has hit in the cleanup spot since April 25.
‘‘I like it. Whatever spot they put me, it doesn’t matter. Just leave me there.’’
The National League Central-leading Brewers had only one hit after the fifth, a double by Ryan Braun leading off the ninth against Hector Rondon.
But Rondon retired the next three to earn his fifth save.
‘‘We’re happy with the way all the guys in the bullpen are throwing,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
Castillo’s two-run homer off Estrada gave him his first career back-to-back multi-RBI games after driving in two runs Saturday. The homer also was his fourth off Estrada, who is the only pitcher Castillo has tagged for multiple homers in his career.
Bring on the Bombers
Renteria is looking forward to this week’s two-game series with the New York Yankees as much as any fan.
‘‘Fans will always be excited about seeing the Cubs and Yankees play,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m excited about the Cubs and Yankees playing.’’
The Cubs will face the newest Yankees ace, Japanese rookie Masahiro Tanaka (6-0, 2.17 ERA), on Tuesday. Tanaka, whom the Cubs tried to sign last winter, already has a victory against them on April 16.
‘‘He’s thrown quite a few times since we saw him, and we know he loves his split-finger pitch,’’ Renteria said.
The series will be only the third trip to Wrigley Field for the Yankees since the 1938 World Series, which the Yanks swept in four games. In 2003 and 2011, the teams played three-game series, with the Yankees winning two out of three games each time.
The Cubs will honor retiring Yankees captain Derek Jeter before the game Tuesday night.
Strop to Mesa
Pitcher Pedro Strop (left groin strain) is going to Mesa, Arizona, to continue his rehab.