9/27 Cardinals 7, Cubs 0
Travis Wood reached a milestone in his final start but couldn’t stop the Cardinals from celebrating. For the third time in five games, the Cubs watched another team spray champagne. Yadier Molina drove in three runs and David Freese and Matt Holliday each hit solo home runs to power the Cardinals to a 7-0 victory on Friday night at Busch Stadium and their first National League Central title since 2009. Last Sunday, the Braves partied at Wrigley Field after their win over the Cubs secured the NL East, and the next day, the Pirates earned a playoff berth with a victory in Chicago.
“You can get something out of it, the guys who have never seen a celebration,” Dale Sveum said. “I’ve already seen it and I don’t like watching celebrations if I’m not involved.”
Lance Lynn struck out eight of the first 11 batters he faced, and finished with nine strikeouts over six innings for the win, which was the Cardinals’ 95th of the season and their most since 100 victories in 2005.
Wood entered the game with 199 innings, and Sveum said the plan was to have the left-hander pitch one inning and that would be enough. The team felt Wood had thrown enough pitches this season, and totaled enough innings. What they didn’t predict was the Cardinals batting around in the first. Wood retired the first two batters, helping himself by catching Carlos Beltran’s popup near the Cardinals dugout for the second out. He then gave up three straight hits, including a line drive to left that Brian Bogusevic just missed. Molina smacked a two-run double, then Freese walked, and Jon Jay followed with a RBI single. Wood intentionally walked Pete Kozma and then struck out Lynn.
“Plays are going to happen, plays aren’t going to happen,” Wood said. “I had plenty of opportunities after that play to get out of it. I had two lefties to get out and several other batters. When you get two outs of the first two hitters, and then face the nine, that’s on me.”
Wood has been the most consistent pitcher on the Cubs, leading the team with 24 quality starts.
“That was a shame,” Sveum said of the first inning. “It kind of makes you want to throw up. Two outs, nobody on and all that happens. It’s too bad. I thought he had one [heck] of a year and was as good as the top 10 guys in the league if not better than that. For what he’s done for our team, it’s a shame how that all turned out.”
The Cubs told Wood they were going to limit him a few days ago.
“They could’ve shut me down,” Wood said. “For them to give me the opportunity to at least start the game and get that 200th inning was huge, and I thank them for it.”
Despite the loss, Wood still finished with career highs in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts.
“You can always do more,” the lefty said. “The record wasn’t what I wanted it to be and the team’s record wasn’t what I wanted it to be. There’s always stuff to improve on.”
— Carrie Muskat