The Chicago Cubs have struggled as expected for most of year two of Theo Epstein’s rebuilding of the franchise. But, this week has brought fans from the North Side a ton of joy at the expense of the South Siders, the Chicago White Sox.
The Cubs clobbered the White Sox three times this week and were leading 2-0 in the game on Tuesday that got rained out. The formula for success in all three games has been the same: great starting pitching and an offensive explosion from the entire lineup.
Thursday’s game was all about Cubs pitcher Travis Wood. Not only did Wood notch his fifth win of the season by allowing just two runs in six innings of work to lower his ERA to a stellar 2.75, he also worked the bat with remarkable success. With Welington Castillo, Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney on base in the bottom half of the fourth, Wood crushed a 374-feet grand slam to center field off his counterpart Jake Peavy.
The homer gave the Cubs a comfortable 6-1 lead that Wood and the team’s bullpen were never in danger of losing.
His grand slam gave the Cubs pitchers 19 RBIs for May, a National League record for one month of play. Wood is the best hitter of the starting pitchers, boasting a respectable .292 average with two home runs on the season. The Cubs pitching has been a surprising bright spot season, with starters combining for a 3.58 ERA, seventh best in MLB despite Edwin Jackson posting a woeful 6.11 ERA.
The Cubs’ 8-3 win victory over the White Sox yesterday secured the crosstown cup for the North Siders. It’s the first time since 2007 that the Cubs won the regular-season series to earn the cup. The win helped extend the Cubs winning streak to a season-high four games.
Winning the crosstown cup was not the season goal for the Cubs, but maybe their three-game obliteration of their crosstown rivals could build some momentum moving forward as they look to keep up their recent winning ways.