SAN DIEGO — Travis Wood represented the Cubs at last year’s All-Star Game, but he still gets overshadowed in this rotation. It’s all about Jeff Samardzija’s soaring trade value, Jason Hammel’s sign-and-flip deal and Edwin Jackson’s big contract.
But a sellout crowd couldn’t overlook Wood on Saturday night at Petco Park. The low-profile lefty took a one-hitter into the seventh inning and came through with a clutch hit in a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.
The Cubs (18-29) keep getting very good starting pitching, and power arms Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon got the final five outs against the Padres (22-28). Who knows if the Cubs can sustain it, but Wood (5-4, 4.35 ERA) appears to be back on track after a few up-and-down performances.
“That’s going to happen,” Wood said. “It’s baseball. You’re going to have games where you don’t have your stuff and you end up getting beat up pretty bad. You can’t really worry about it. You got to move on and know that you got four more days to prepare.”
That straightforward approach helped Wood make 24 quality starts last season. He allowed an infield single to San Diego leadoff guy Everth Cabrera in the first inning, but otherwise cruised into the eighth. That’s when pinch-hitter Carlos Quentin crushed a cutter 405 feet off a sign fronting the left-field deck for a two-run homer.
“He attacks the strike zone,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “He stays down in the zone, and he’s got a good mix. He knows when to take off or put a little on and cut it when he needs to. When he has to elevate, he can, and it keeps guys off-balance.”
The Cubs had some breathing room because the Padres intentionally walked Darwin Barney in the sixth inning to get to Wood, who lined an RBI single into left field. Wood is a competitive, all-around athlete with seven career homers, including shots off Adam Wainwright, Yovani Gallardo, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum.
“I was a little bit (surprised),” Wood said. “I understand it. But I just wasn’t thinking about the situation in the game, and I looked up and I saw them walking him. But you know me, I like it.”