The Cubs don’t have much to play for in September, other than padding stats or making an impression on someone who might help them get their next job.
The Houston Astros (45-92) already have the inside track on the No. 1 overall draft pick for the third year in a row. Even after Monday’s 4-3 loss, the Cubs (58-79) still probably won’t catch the Miami Marlins (51-85) in the race to the bottom.
If Labor Day is a traditional mile marker, then it’s worth noting the Cubs have the second-worst record in the National League and drew only 26,978 fans for a holiday matinee, yet another sign this city is ready for the Bears.
Travis Wood went seven innings, running his season total to 179, but it’s been this kind of year for the Cubs. Wood gave up home runs to the only lefty in Miami’s lineup (Christian Yelich) and the pitcher (Henderson Alvarez).
Alvarez lifted a cutter Wood left over the middle of plate and drove it into the left-field bleachers. That three-run shot in the second inning wound up deciding the game, giving the lefty another hard-luck loss.
Still, Wood (8-11, 3.17 ERA) has now made 28 starts, establishing himself as a core player and getting in position to reach 200 innings.
“It would be nice and that’s what a lot of pitchers (shoot for),” Wood said. “But for me it’s just taking the ball every fifth day, going as deep as I can and giving them everything I got."
At the age of 26, this would mark Wood’s first full season in the big leagues, a next-level performance that pushed him into the All-Star Game and cemented his spot in the 2014 rotation.
“Any starting pitcher figures if you get to 200 innings, you had a pretty good year,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You did what you were supposed to do – get deeper in games all the time, help bullpens out and all that. But obviously he’s had a pretty quality year all the way around.”
With only 25 more games to go, the Cubs are trying to find the motivation.
“There’s a lot of guys playing for their careers, including myself,” catcher Dioner Navarro said, “I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. We’re a young team. We’re trying to rebuild. … I guess we’re out of the playoff race, but there’s a lot of guys that are playing for a spot on this team for next year.”