Kerry Wood(notes) and Mark DeRosa(notes) were instrumental to Chicago’s second consecutive NL Central title last season. The Cubs let both go in the offseason, and so far, this year has been a struggle for the club.
Now with Cleveland, Wood and DeRosa make their first trip back to Wrigley Field on Friday when the Indians open a three-game series against the Cubs.
Wood made his major league debut for the Cubs (31-31) as a 20-year-old in 1998, when he was named NL Rookie of the Year.
Injuries plagued his career, but in 2008, Wood converted 34-of-40 save opportunities, his first season as a closer. After 14 seasons with the Cubs organization, the two-time All-Star signed a free-agent contract with Cleveland (29-39) in December and has eight saves in 10 chances with his new team.
“I’m sure it will be an exciting weekend,” Wood told the Indians’ official Web site. “We’re going back to a place where we’ve played before. We’re going back where I spent all of my career, and DeRosa had a couple of good years as well.”
DeRosa was traded to Cleveland for three minor league pitchers on New Year’s Eve after hitting .285 with career highs of 21 homers and 87 RBIs. The fan favorite, who spent two seasons with the Cubs, was extremely versatile, playing games at all four infield positions and both left and right field.
This season, DeRosa’s batting .280 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs and has really come on strong lately, going 20 for 58 (.345) with five homers and 14 RBIs in his last 14 games. Alfonso Soriano(notes), meanwhile, leads the anemic Cubs offense with 29 RBIs—the lowest total for any team leader in the majors.
Soriano delivered the game-winning RBI in Thursday’s 6-5 comeback win over the Chicago White Sox with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth.
“We’ve been in an offensive funk, and to score some runs late off some really good pitchers is big for us,” said Lee, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games. “To lose this game would have been tough.”
Lee threw seven innings of no-hit ball before settling for a three-hitter in Sunday’s 3-0 win over St. Louis. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner walked just two and retired 20 straight batters before Yadier Molina(notes) opened the eighth with a double.
With the victory, Lee improved to 12-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 20 interleague starts—the best winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 12 decisions. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his last five starts versus the NL.
In his only career start against the Cubs in 2006, Lee gave up two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-2 win.
Since Lee’s gem against the Cardinals, the Indians were swept in a three-game series by Milwaukee despite scoring 25 runs. In Wednesday’s 9-8, 11-inning loss, Cleveland rallied for four runs in the ninth before losing for the fourth time in five games.
Chicago’s Rich Harden(notes) (4-3, 4.53) looks to the curb the surging Indians offense. In his first start after spending more than three weeks on the DL with a sprained lower back, the right-hander allowed two runs and five hits with nine strikeouts in six innings of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Minnesota.
This will be Harden’s first start against the Indians since 2006, when he pitched for Oakland. He’s 1-0 with a 3.43 ERA in four career starts versus Cleveland.