At first glance, Lou Piniella’s decision to bring Kerry Wood into Tuesday night’s game when he did was at odds with Lou’s stated intention to ease Wood back into the big leagues.
The score was already 3-1 in Houston’s favor, the Astros had men at first and second with just one out, and notorious Cub-abuser Carlos Lee was striding to the plate.
Thing is, on a night when a team can do no more against the likes of Woody Williams than the Cubs did in six innings Tuesday—four hits and one run which only scored because Williams walked Cliff Floyd with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning—you have to figure that team really isn’t capable of overcoming a 3-1 deficit against Major League pitching.
In other words, given the Cub lineup and given the way that lineup was hitting Tuesday night, the decision was already sealed and Wood couldn’t have hurt the cause. That’s what you call a low-leverage relief situation.
For his part, Wood threw 31 pitches, giving up two hits and no runs, though the hits he allowed were to the first two men he faced, Lee and Ty Wigginton, and those hits plated the two runners Wood inherited.
As I write this, the game has moved to the top of the 9th inning and the Cubs are trailing 5-2 while the Brewers lead at Colorado, 2-0, in the fifth inning. This was a night when the Cubs deserved to lose and to lose ground to the division leaders, and unless things change dramatically after I shut down my computer for the night, both of those things will happen.