BREAKING

Birthday W: Stroman steps up as Cubs avoid sweep


by - Senior Writer -
Stroman was dominant during his birthday (Dale Zanine - USA Today Sports)
Stroman was dominant during his birthday (Dale Zanine - USA Today Sports)

MILWAUKEE - Now that is the Marcus Stroman the Chicago Cubs (9-13) have been waiting for. It only took four starts, but Stroman finally delivered the outing the team has been waiting for after spending over 70 million dollars on him this offseason.

Facing a red-hot Milwaukee Brewers (15-8) offense and their Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, Stroman knew he would have to be on top of his game to halt what could have been a six-game winning streak for Milwaukee. He gave the Cubs seven innings of work on the mound, allowing just two hits and, most importantly, no runs. His one walk and five strikeouts were another promising sign as the Cubs found a way to pull out the series finale 2-0.

When you look at the first two games of the series, not only did the Brewers offense set the tone with the long ball, but their pitching made life difficult for Cubs hitters. Chicago was outscored 20-4 in the series, which shows you how good the Brewers pitching was. After Eric Lauer delivered an impressive seven-inning showing on Saturday, it was up to Burnes to match that, as he has only gotten better since his opening day clunker against the Cubs.

Burnes matched Stroman pitch for pitch, giving Milwaukee seven innings of his own. He walked one struck out 10 as his ERA fell to 1.93 on the season. However, Burnes wound up on the losing side of things as he allowed both runs the Cubs scored in the 2-0 defeat.

The first two innings appeared to set the tone for how the rest of the game would go as the Cubs went down six up-six down with four strikeouts in the process. For Milwaukee, they had baserunners in each of the first two innings, but Stroman was able to induce consecutive inning-ending double plays, which was a good sign.

That trend continued into the fourth inning, where the Cubs had yet to put a runner on base, whereas Stroman managed to work around traffic in each of the first three innings before retiring them in order in the fourth. It took five innings for someone to breakthrough, and that someone was the Cubs.

After seeing Burnes blow through the first 13 hitters in order, Patrick Wisdom finally made solid contact and connected for his fourth homer of the season to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Considering the start Wisdom got off to this season, I think the Cubs can all agree that he is doing a great job adjusting to pitches.

That hit seemed to awaken the Cubs bats a little as they continued to keep the pressure on Burnes in the sixth. With two-down in the inning, Alfonso Rivas picked up an infield single after being moved to the leadoff spot ahead of the game. That paid off in a big way, with Seiya Suzuki trying to bust out of his slump with an RBI double as the Cubs doubled their lead 2-0.

Remember when Stroman had to work around traffic in each of the first three innings? Neither did the Cubs at this point, as he settled in nicely to retire the final 13 hitters he faced and sent the game to the eighth inning with the Cubs leading 2-0. In what was now a battle of the bullpens, Brent Suter was first up in the eighth inning and immediately had to work out of a jam.

Nick Madrigal opened the eighth inning with a leadoff single and then advanced to second following the Rivas walk. Suter left the inning before finishing it off, but Jandel Gustave finished off the Cubs without allowing another run to score.

For David Ross, it was time for the back end of his pen to make an appearance with Rowan Wick summoned to pitch the eighth. Wick would not only walk Rowdy Tellez to open the inning, but allowed a single to Omar Narvaez as Milwaukee had two runners on with one out.

With Jace Peterson representing the tying run, Ross made another change and brought in his closer David Robertson for the four-out save. Robertson took care of Peterson to end the eighth with a strikeout and sent the game to the ninth with the Cubs still leading.

Robertson worked around a one-out walk in that final frame and struck out two more hitters to secure his fifth save in as many tries this season as the Cubs avoided the sweep 2-0. Five different players had a hit in the game for the Cubs, with Rivas, Wisdom, Madrigal, Suzuki, and Nico Hoerner grabbing those hits. The Cubs will be off Monday and then will open the Cross-town Cup against the White Sox on Tuesday.

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