Wood still grappling with growing pains
NEW YORK -- Left-hander Alex Wood has spent the past month distancing himself from the mechanical issues that plagued him during the season's first six weeks. But over the course of this week, he has shown that he is still susceptible to frustrating growing pains.
Such was the case when Wood exited Friday night's 5-3 loss to the Mets evaluating the physical and mental mistakes he made in the process of surrendering a career-high two homers and making one costly errant pickoff attempt at second base.
"I thought it was a battle the whole night," Wood said after allowing six hits and five runs -- four earned -- over 6 1/3 innings.
Coming off Sunday's abbreviated, five-inning stint against the Pirates, which concluded when he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes after the top of the fifth inning, Wood seemed to be in a groove, notching two strikeouts in a perfect first inning. But he opened the bottom of the second by allowing Wilmer Flores' 10th home run of the season.
Wood had given up just one home run in his previous 61 innings, but he wasn't as upset about the location of the fastball Flores belted as he was about the decision to throw a 2-1 inside fastball that John Mayberry Jr. sent over the left-field wall for a two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Making matters worse was the fact that there's some history against Mayberry, who is now 6-for-15 with two homers against Wood.
"Those are the most frustrating [mistakes] because that is what I pride myself on, being the most prepared to win that chess match," Wood said. "That particular at-bat, I didn't."
Although the home runs were costly, the Mets did not tally their decisive run until the sixth, when Mayberry scored on Eric Campbell's groundout. Mayberry, who had singled with one out and advanced on a walk, then took third when Wood's pickoff throw to second base sailed into center field -- much like closer Jason Grilli's did during Monday's loss to the Padres.
"I wouldn't say it's a high-risk play, because we're pretty good at it," Wood said. "But it's just something that happened. It's a physical mistake. I don't know [if he would have been out] if it had been a good throw. But it's something I like doing, and it won't keep me from doing it again."
Wood surrendered just one earned run in each of the three starts he made from May 16 to June 1, but as he has allowed seven earned runs in the 11 1/3 innings completed during his past two starts, he has been reminded that he's destined to endure some growing pains as he experiences his first full season in a big league rotation.
"It [stinks] that we came up short," he said. "But it's one of those things where I tried to give the guys everything I had."