Wood does it all, propels Cubs to sweep of Astros

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Wood does it all, propels Cubs to sweep of Astros

Travis Wood flirted with perfection just three starts into his major-league career, throwing nine spectacular innings of one-hit shutout ball against the Phillies on July 10, 2010.

It was that potential the Cubs hope they could harness when they acquired the 25-year-old lefty from Cincinnati in the offseason as part of the return for Sean Marshall.

Over the last month, Wood has shown flashes of that potential, although his start Sunday was perhaps his best yet in a Cubs uniform. Wood didn't issue a walk and only allowed three hits with four strikeouts in 7 23 innings of shutout ball, lowering his ERA to 3.15 on the season. Since the start of June, Wood has allowed eight runs with 28 strikeouts, 12 walks in 39 13 innings pitched, and he's only allowed one home run in that span, too.

Wood's success wasn't limited to the mound Sunday, though. He led off the sixth with a sharp double down the third base line and advanced to third on a heads-up baserunning play.

On Saturday, Houston intentionally walked Starlin Castro to set up a first-and-third situation, trying to induce a double play and take the bat out of Castro's hands. The strategy was successful, as Anthony Rizzo struck out, and the Cubs failed to score in the inning.

Houston did the same thing Sunday, walking Castro with Wood on third to get to Rizzo. But on the first pitch, Rizzo ripped a single through the right side, scoring Wood and netting him his third game-winning RBI in five games with the Cubs

Jeff Baker added a two-run double to put the Cubs up 3-0, which was plenty of support for Wood, who threw a season-high 104 pitches.

Carlos Marmol recorded a save for the third straight day and now has eight in 2012. The win gave the Cubs their second sweep of the season, with the last coming May 28-30 against San Diego.

Road Ahead: Blackhawks play three home games before All-Star break

Road Ahead: Blackhawks play three home games before All-Star break

CSN's Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd preview the Blackhawks' three upcoming games in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

The Blackhawks have three home games before the NHL All-Star break, which takes place in Los Angeles.

The Blackhawks have dates between the Vancouver Canucks, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Winnipeg Jets. All three opponents are out of the playoff picture, sand Steve Konroyd is looking for the Blackhawks to step up in a certain part of their game: scoring.

See what Boyle and Konroyd had to say in the video above.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.