Travis Wood walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the 31,579 fans sweating inside Wrigley Field. It had some energy on a hot, humid Tuesday night for Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels.
Wood shut down a marquee lineup in a 7-2 victory, but the Cubs have seen his A-game for more than three months now. With that, Wood became the first Cub to record 17 quality starts before the All-Star break since Greg Maddux in 1988.
Maybe now the 26-year-old left-hander will get a shot at a much bigger stage in New York.
The day after manager Dale Sveum seemed to rule out Wood pitching in the All-Star Game, the Cubs appeared to open up that possibility. Wood is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals on national television, and a decision apparently won’t be made until that night.
“That’s something me and Dale are going to have to talk about,” Wood said. “(Next Tuesday) is a side day, so I would be available. But we’ll talk and see what the organization wants me to do and we’ll see what happens.”
Wood (6-6, 2.69 ERA) faced the minimum through five innings and left to a loud roar with two outs in the seventh, his only mistake against the Angels (43-46) being the two-run homer from Pujols, the Cub killer.
Whether or not Wood will be seeing stars at Citi Field, the collective bargaining agreement includes a “Sunday Pitcher Rule,” which allows the player to decide whether or not to participate and max out with one inning or a certain number of pitches.
“It will all depend a lot on how Sunday goes,” Sveum said. “But I think (National League manager Bruce Bochy) can use him for a left-handed hitter.
“I got no problem (with Wood) pitching one inning or 20 pitches, just the same (way) you’d pitch your side (session). He goes all-out on his side days anyway, so it would be right there.”
Wood benefitted from Alfonso Soriano’s 386th and 387th career bombs, as well as home runs from Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. The Cubs (40-48) seem to be playing much better as the front office gears up for another fire sale.
Soriano was asked about trade rumors postgame Monday night, pregame Tuesday afternoon and then again postgame Tuesday night.
“We have too much talent in this clubhouse,” Soriano said. “Sometimes those kids put a lot of pressure on themselves. So they have to (take it) one day at a time. It’s a long season and they have to believe in themselves because they have the talent.”
Wood is a competitive guy who has established himself as a core piece in this rebuilding project. There’s little doubt about his All-Star vote.
“I would like to pitch,” Wood said, “but the ultimate goal is the season for the Cubs, so we’ll talk it out with them.”