Cubs’ Randy Wells, Tyler Colvin tease future
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com August 2, 2011 11:02PM
Alfonso Soriano belts his second homer of the game in the fourth inning Tuesday. | Gene J. Puskar~AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:21AM
PITTSBURGH — If Randy Wells and Tyler Colvin can deliver again on the promise they showed as rookies, the Cubs actually may have a few legitimate rebuilding blocks to make a difference by next spring.
Despite lengthy struggles this season by both players, they offered a one-night, tandem glimpse of what that might look like in the Cubs’ 11-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
‘‘It’s tough, it’s definitely tough,’’ said Wells (3-4), who responded to allowing a two-run homer to the second batter by shutting out the Pirates on three hits the rest of his six-inning start. ‘‘You can say you don’t read it or you don’t buy into it or you don’t hear the stuff. But when you hear people calling for you to go down or get out of here, it definitely plays with your mind.’’
Wells, who had a rough sophomore season in 2010 before pitching well this spring and into his first start, suffered a forearm injury in that start that put him out for eight weeks. He went winless in his first nine starts back.
He’s 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts since and says he’s feeling stronger with better command and more confidence.
Colvin, who hit 20 homers as a rookie last year, earned a lengthy minor-league stint this year until Kosuke Fukudome was traded last week to make room for him to audition for an every-day role.
Entering Tuesday at .107, Colvin responded to two days on the bench with three hits, including a homer into the Allegheny River on a bounce.
‘‘I think Colvin’s handled it really well,’’ Wells said. ‘‘He went down there, didn’t complain, swung the bat well, and he’s come up here and swung the bat well here. . . .
‘‘When [struggles] happen, sometimes you look too far into it. . . . Sometimes it’s just confidence, and all you need to do is get a couple good games under your belt and go out there and get on a roll.’’
After weeks of public delusion, the Cubs finally are acknowledging their role as spoilers in the pennant races.
In fact, a week after putting the Milwaukee Brewers in first place by getting rolled in three games, the Cubs might be helping to put the upstart Pirates out of contention.
‘‘If we can’t get to October, we might as well be spoilers and ruin it for some people,’’ right-hander Matt Garza said after Saturday’s loss.
That’s a far cry from Garza’s assertion just before the All-Star break, and manager Mike Quade’s assertion last week, that the Cubs could re-enter the race.
They have 27 games left against teams within 51/2 games of a division or wild-card lead.
‘‘You wish you were [a contender] right now, and you’re not,’’ Quade said. ‘‘There’s always a little extra impetus when you’re playing contenders, especially contenders in your own division. It’s just time to make it hard on all of them.’’
The Cubs’ six homers Tuesday tied a club record for a road game. They last matched it in 2004 in Houston.
The last time the Cubs hit six in a game anywhere: 2006 against the Cincinnati Reds.
The last time they had 21 hits: 2005 at Arizona, with 23.