Another tough pitching matchup awaits the Colorado Rockies on Monday when they enter Wrigley Field to open a three-game set with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs took two of three at Washington over the weekend, as they topped the Nationals, 8-2 on Saturday and then clinched the series with a 2-1 victory on Sunday. In the latter victory, the Cubs were blanked through seven innings before tying the game in the eighth inning and then winning it in the ninth on a bad throw on a double steal.
The Rockies offense was held scoreless for 28 straight innings until Troy Tulowitzki launched a three-run home run in the third inning of Sunday's eventual 8-2 win over the Cardinals, which snapped a four-game skid. The Rockies broke out of their funk with 11 hits.
"Hopefully the Cardinals have cooled their offense down," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "They were the best offense in the league. It's just a really good offense all the way up and down the lineup, with power and really good hitters. We'll have to take advantage of being at home, and hopefully they go into slumps like they have the last couple days."
Juan Nicasio takes the mound for Colorado. The right-hander has not pitched past the sixth inning in any of his seven starts this season, although he has also yet to have been charged with a loss. In his latest outing, Nicasio took a no-decision against the Yankees on Wednesday after allowing two runs on two hits in five innings.
For the Cubs, Travis Wood looks to keep his solid streak going. The southpaw has posted a quality start in each of his first seven starts, the first Cubs left-hander to accomplish that feat since 1948 (Johnny Schmitz). Against the Cubs last week, Wood allowed only one run and struck out a season-high eight batters in 6 2/3 innings.
Manager Dale Sveum had high praise for his left-hander following that outing.
"He's the best starter in baseball, pretty much," Sveum said. "He's figured it out. We talked about it at the end of last year and in Spring Training about how he's able to pitch to both sides of the plate, and arm side -- that's one thing he couldn't do -- and now he can do just about anything he wants with the ball."
Wood will look for some more help from a Cubs offense that is hitting .273 at home, compared to .218 elsewhere.
Colorado won four of six head-to-head meetings last season.