(Wood’s career is summed up in this commemorative free souvenir handed out to Cub fans today.)
The endless fascination with one of the more frustrating stories in baseball, ie Kerry Wood’s right arm, comes to a mid-season peak this year with his return to Wrigley Field and what will hopefully be a productive career as a middle reliever. The Chicago Tribune’s Dave van Dyck provides a laundry list of Wood’s career on the DL, interrupted as it is by moments of baseball.

The glory year: Ah, the magical season of 2003, for Wood and the Cubs. He won a career-high 14 games as the Cubs made the playoffs. And for the second straight year he made more than 30 starts.

The down slope: On May 20, 2004, when he had a 2.53 ERA, Wood went back to the DL after feeling something in his arm. This time it was a strain in his right triceps. After one rehab start in Iowa, Wood returned but had a 4.14 ERA the rest of the season.

As for yesterday’s loss, well, the first place Cubs apparently feel comfortable coasting on that fat .001 lead over the Brewers in the standings. Dominating the NL Central as they have for over 48 hours, the Cubs managed to lose a game in which the Phil’s lost their starter early, and the Cubs doubled 5 times, hit multiple triples, and still couldn’t get past the Philadelphia bullpen’s miserable work. The biggest obstacle to that of course, was the even worse Cub pitching, since the Phillies more than matched the Cubs in multiple base hits and a couple of home runs. But the Phillies, as Michael Radano of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post notes, have a thousand-yard stare that fat cats like the cubs don’t know how to handle. Writes Mr. Radano:

If any other team had lost its starter in the first inning after getting hit by a line drive, it may have been seen as a tough break.

For the Phillies, it was business as usual.

“Unfortunately, I added to it,” said Kyle Lohse, who made his first start since being acquired in a trade with Cincinnati on Monday. “They got us pretty good here.”

The Phillies used six pitchers en route to a 10-6 win over the Chicago Cubs Thursday in front of 40,988 at Wrigley Field.

The much-maligned bullpen scuffled through eight innings and allowed five runs but the offense came back to life, in particular the final four hitters in the lineup. They went a combined 11-for-18 with three doubles, a home run, nine runs scored and three RBIs.

So, after 48 hours, the Cubs just take winning for granted? Zambrano starts for us today, but if Kerry Wood can make a difference in 2007, it would be in a game like yesterday, in which the Cubs gave up three demoralizing runs in the 9th. Until then, they recovered well from a pile of early runs the Phils made early on, and chipped away at it inning by inning.