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NEW YORK – Travis Wood doesn’t seem to enjoy talking about himself, clipping his answers after a sentence or two.
But Wood isn’t a frontrunner. Win or lose, he’s been that way ever since he showed up in Arizona for spring training, as the centerpiece to the Sean Marshall trade with the Cincinnati Reds – who didn’t make the team out of camp.
At least on Friday night at Citi Field, Wood didn’t have to try to explain a Carlos Marmol meltdown in the ninth inning. And the 25-year-old left-hander is starting to really look like a keeper.
Wood watched from the clubhouse as the Cubs hung on for an 8-7 victory over Johan Santana and the New York Mets. Instead of walking around the room in dead silence, the Cubs (32-51) blasted music.
“It was getting interesting,” Wood said, “but he pulled it off.”
Given a four-run lead, Marmol finally ended it when Lucas Duda lined a shot right back at the pitcher, who underhanded the ball to first base for the game-ending double play.
Wood saw his scoreless streak snapped at 19.2 innings. He wasn’t particularly sharp, walking four batters, but he got through six innings, giving up three runs, two earned to notch his fourth consecutive win.
Wood (4-3, 3.05 ERA) got a ton of support from Anthony Rizzo, who went 4-for-5 with a three-run homer off Santana, and leadoff man Reed Johnson (four hits, three runs scored).
“I was very excited to face (Johan), a Cy Young winner who threw a no-hitter a couple of weeks ago,” Rizzo said. “(You) just try not to do too much against him. He’s a great pitcher.”
In the same way that Rizzo seemed to have benefited from the extra time at Triple-A Iowa, enabling him to explode onto the scene, Wood has bounced back from his struggles in spring training and found something in the minors.
Wood has had to bring his A-game. He’s already beaten Santana twice – and Jake Peavy – and lost to Barry Zito and Justin Verlander.
“He’s really been a boost,” Rizzo said. “I feel like he goes out there pretty much every time: You’re facing another ace today. He competes and he’s a gamer.”
As the Cubs take a long-range view of their future during this lost season, they may have found a legitimate rotation piece and their No. 3 hitter for years to come.
“I’ve been throwing the ball well,” Wood said. “As a team, we’ve been playing pretty good baseball the last couple weeks. We get a little (All-Star) break and get to settle down for a little bit. Hopefully. we come back and just keep it going.”
Tags: Cubs, Travis Wood, Anthony Rizzo