MLB Playoffs: Travis Wood homers, Cubs beat Giants to take 2-0 NLDS lead

USA Today Images

MLB Playoffs: Travis Wood homers, Cubs beat Giants to take 2-0 NLDS lead

CHICAGO -- Travis Wood took over when starter Kyle Hendricks got hurt and became the first relief pitcher since 1924 to hit a postseason home run, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 Saturday night for 2-0 NL Division Series lead.

Ben Zobrist put Chicago ahead in the first with a run-scoring single off former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, and Hendricks hit a two-run single in a three-run second.

Hendricks left with a 4-2 lead in the fourth when he was hit on the right forearm by Angel Pagan's line drive.

Wood struck out Conor Gillaspie to strand Pagan, then sent a one-out offering from George Kontos halfway up the left-field bleachers in the bottom half. The only other reliever to homer in the postseason was the New York Giants' Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series.

Given a curtain call by a screaming crowd of 42,392, Wood joined Rick Sutcliffe (1984) and Kerry Wood (2003) as the only Cubs pitchers to go deep in the postseason. Travis Wood has hit nine regular-season homers in his big league career (see full recap).

Dodgers-Nats rained out in Game 2 of NLDS; will play Sunday
WASHINGTON -- Long after the concourses emptied, the sky cleared up as the tarp still covered the field. Game 2 of the NL Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers still had to wait.

Major League Baseball postponed the Dodgers-Nationals game until Sunday at 1:08 p.m. because it expected the rain that fell throughout the morning and afternoon to continue well into the night.

The teams were scheduled for a 4:08 p.m. first pitch Saturday. But rain that intensified as Hurricane Matthew moved up the coast and a forecast of "100 percent certainty" for precipitation until at least 8 p.m. forced the decision, Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

"We hate to cancel," said Manfred, who arrived Saturday afternoon after a flight from New York. "We hate to make travel worse on the players than it was originally intended to be. But it just doesn't look like we're going to have a situation that would be safe for the players to play."

Rain stopped falling at Nationals Park around 4 p.m., about an hour after the decision was made to postpone the game. Rain was scheduled to resume in the early evening (see full story).

    Will we see more of Roman Quinn than Odubel Herrera down the stretch?

    USA Today Images

    Will we see more of Roman Quinn than Odubel Herrera down the stretch?

    This healthy stretch from Roman Quinn has come at the perfect time for the Phillies.

    Quinn is back in the starting lineup Friday night against the Mets, playing center field just as he did in Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader. 

    He's earned his way into more playing time by making an impact at the plate, in the field and on the bases. He's the Phillies' best defensive outfielder and best baserunner, and with how Odubel Herrera is trending right now, Quinn offers similar (if not more) offensive value.

    Quinn was 3 for 6 in Thursday's doubleheader with two steals and two runs scored. Herrera, meanwhile, has just one multi-hit game in his last 10. He's gone 27 straight games without scoring twice.

    Has Quinn supplanted Herrera for now?

    "Openly, we don't have jobs like that," manager Gabe Kapler said Friday. "Guys come ready to play baseball every single day. Quinny's gonna come ready to be deployed off the bench, play center field, play right field. We saw how dynamic he was last night. He earned and deserved the opportunity to go start in center field today.

    "Each day lives independently of the last. We don't have any research that indicates that because a guy performed well yesterday, he's going to perform well today. But we also have to be responsive to and not be tone-deaf to how people are feeling about how much energy a guy like Roman Quinn brings to the field. 

    "And so being responsive to that and saying yeah, I feel like we get a big boost when he's in the lineup. Or even when we send him out to pinch-run, everybody kind of moves a little bit closer to the rail to watch what unfolds. I want to be responsive to that and that's why I say he's earned the right to go out there and start in center field tonight for us."

    Herrera is down to .269/.323/.445 on the season. Since June 25, a span of 40 starts, Herrera has hit .207 with a .261 OBP. He's struck out nearly once a game during that period and walked once every four games. Many of his plate appearances have ended weakly, with a swing at a pitch out of the strike zone or a rollover to the right side. 

    When Herrera is going cold, many in this city get ready to give up on him. But he does have stretches of immense value, such as his first 73 games of the season when he hit .305 with an .863 OPS. 

    The issue is that his slumps tend to be prolonged, and during them, Herrera becomes a near-zero at the plate because he isn't making up for the lack of hits by working counts and taking walks.

    During these down periods, Quinn becomes a necessary and useful insurance policy. It's one of several reasons his health is so vital to the Phillies, especially with 41 remaining regular-season games that basically double as playoff games.

    "He's an awesome weapon for us," Kapler said. "We're lucky to have him."

    More on the Phillies

    After giving up 30 runs in 1 day, Phillies actually gain ground in race

    After giving up 30 runs in 1 day, Phillies actually gain ground in race


    If you are going to take a 20-run beating, it’s best to do so in the first game of a doubleheader. And not one of those separate admission doubleheaders, an old-fashioned doubleheader in which the second game starts 30 minutes after the first one.

    That way there’s no time to sit around and stew in the juices from the painful defeat.

    Lace ‘em right back up. Get back out there and start swinging again.

    That’s just what the Phillies did Thursday night. They won the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, 9-6 (see first take). The win came just a few hours after the Mets pounded the Phillies, 24-4, and turned position players Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery into batting-practice pitchers (see story).

    Rhys Hoskins made a costly error — one of four that the sloppy Phillies made — in the Mets’ 10-run fifth inning in the opener. But Hoskins came back in the nightcap and rescued the Phillies and Zach Eflin from an early two-run deficit with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning, and the Phillies never trailed again.

    “Rhys’ homer was huge,” said Eflin, who delivered 6 2/3 innings of four-run ball for his ninth win. “As a pitcher, you always want to pitch with the lead and he got it for us.”

    Hoskins has homered in three of the last four games. He has 25 on the season.

    “Rhys set the tone with that big three-run home run, getting us right back in it and I think it speaks to the character of our club,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re not down for long. We can take it on the chin. We can take a punch and we always get up and come out swinging. We believe in each other and I think that was on display today.”

    The victory capped a crazy day of baseball. Even after a 20-run loss in the opener, the Phillies were able to pick up ground in both the NL East and NL wild-card races. They trail Atlanta by 1½ game in the division and lead the wild card race by 1½ games.

    “Obviously, you never want to lose like we did (in the first game), but it happens,” Hoskins said. “We get to wake up tomorrow closer than we were today — that’s a good day.”

    There were no chats, meetings, speeches or reprimands in the brief time between games.

    “Nothing,” Kapler said. “These guys are professionals. They know how to prepare for the next game. They know how to wash it off. You have to have a short memory. We had an ugly first game, there’s no denying that. It was one that we wanted to forget quickly and one way to do that is to come out and win the next game. That’s just what we did.”

    Hoskins said there was no need to say anything between games.

    “We all saw what happened,” he said. “You just flush and move on to the next one. We know what to do to get back on the horse and win a ballgame.”

    Having little time to wallow in the ugly loss helped.

    “Yeah,” Hoskins said. “There’s a lot less time to think about it.”

    Kapler used Quinn and Kingery for three innings of relief — they combined to allow nine runs as the game deteriorated into a comedy act — in the first game because it was a blowout and he wanted to save his bullpen. He was able to use Luis Garcia, Victor Arano and Seranthony Dominguez for big outs late in the second game — not that any one of those guys would have profiled to pitch in the first-game blowout.

    “You saw it,” Hoskins said. “We don’t use guys in the first game. We used position players. Even though it’s pretty ugly, especially in the seventh inning, we have a stronger chance to win the second game, especially with the bullpen we have. You trust Gabe. It’s worked. There’s not really much else to say. We don’t see any madness in his method.”

    Kingery started the second game at shortstop and ignited a three-run second inning with a solo homer. That broke an 0-for-21 drought for the rookie.

    “I joked with him that I wish I knew all we had to do was put him on the mound for him to hit a homer,” Hoskins said. “A little extra adrenaline. Different adrenaline. It was good to see. He’s been grinding with the rest of us. His swing is right there. For him to see results was great.”

    Kingery became the first player since Rocky Colavito of the 1968 Yankees to pitch in Game 1 of a doubleheader and homer in the second game (see video).

    More on the Phillies