Travis Wood is looking like a keeper

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Travis Wood is looking like a keeper

CSNChicago.com

NEW YORK Travis Wood doesnt seem to enjoy talking about himself, clipping his answers after a sentence or two.

But Wood isnt a frontrunner. Win or lose, hes 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 didnt make the team out of camp.

At least on Friday night at Citi Field, Wood didnt 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 wasnt 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. Hes 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. Hes already beaten Santana twice and Jake Peavy and lost to Barry Zito and Justin Verlander.

Hes really been a boost, Rizzo said. I feel like he goes out there pretty much every time: Youre facing another ace today. He competes and hes 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.

Ive been throwing the ball well, Wood said. As a team, weve 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.

Blown out by Iowa, Maryland stumbles to third straight loss

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USA TODAY

Blown out by Iowa, Maryland stumbles to third straight loss

It's been a tough week for the teams at the top of the Big Ten standings.

Maryland and Wisconsin both lost earlier this week, and Purdue lost on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night, the horrors continued for the Terps, who suffered their third straight defeat in a blowout 83-69 loss to the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes in College Park.

Maryland's last lead came near the midway point of the first half before Iowa sprinted away on a 22-10 run to build a double-digit lead, an advantage that grew as big as 22 in the final minutes. All in all, the Hawkeyes knocked down 16 3-pointers. The Terps weren't too far behind with 11 deep balls of their own, but they shot just 40.7 percent in the second half, unable to keep up.

The high-scoring Hawkeyes were powered by freshman Jordan Bohannon, who scored 24 points on a whopping eight made 3-pointers. Fellow freshman Tyler Cook joined him with a 20-point night, finishing with 21 points, while Peter Jok and Nicholas Baer each ended with 11.

Iowa, not completely out of the NCAA tournament realm of possibility, helped its shaky case greatly with this victory.

Maryland, meanwhile, is a lock to make the field of 68 teams, but much like the other presumed conference powers, its struggles are hitting at the most inopportune time.

The Terps have lost five of their last seven and three of their last four at home. Back-to-back home losses this week against Minnesota and Iowa have featured big days for opposing offenses. Prior to the Hawkeyes' performance Saturday, the Golden Gophers dropped 89 points on 50-percent shooting.

The woes of Maryland — plus those of Purdue and Wisconsin — set up not just an interesting final week of the regular season but an interesting Big Ten Tournament that could feature a dark horse like Minnesota entering as the favorite. A surging team like Michigan might be more capable of making a deep run than the top three seeds given their recent struggles.

The Terps will have as good a chance as any to make noise in that tournament and the one that follows throughout the month of March. Winnable games against Rutgers and Michigan State remain, but they're on a bad stretch right now, one that should only elevate the panic after Saturday's defeat.

Discomfort sidelines White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie

Discomfort sidelines White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox held Brett Lawrie out Saturday after he reported discomfort in the same left leg that sidelined him for the final 2 1/2 months of 2016.

The second baseman has been a full participant the entire spring until he informed manager Rick Renteria what he was experiencing Saturday. 

"We're going to reevaluate him tomorrow and see where he's at," Renteria said. "He didn't feel quite right, and so he was in there earlier today getting treatment. We'll reevaluate tomorrow and make a determination where we're at in terms of trying to set some parameters for how we move forward."

A confusing, tricky series of injuries that Lawrie blamed on wearing orthotics limited him to 94 games last season. He hit the disabled list on July 22 and didn't discover the cause until after the season ended. But Lawrie reported to camp feeling healthy once again and has participated at 100 percent until this point, Renteria said.

"It's been good," Renteria said. "Everything has been clean. There have been no notifications anything had been amiss. He just woke up this morning and felt it. So we're going to be very cautious, take it a day at a time, reevaluate it and see where we're at."