Cubs News: Stroman silences Brew Crew in Opening Day win
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Cubs News: Stroman silences Brew Crew in Opening Day win

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - On a cold Thursday afternoon, MLB baseball was back as the Chicago Cubs (1-0) kicked off their 2023 season against the Milwaukee Brewers (1-0). In a division where anything is possible this season, both the Cubs and Brewers could be two of the more interesting teams this season, given the changes both went through this offseason.

With nearly 37K in attendance for the game, it was a matchup of aces on the mound as Marcus Stroman took on Corbin Burnes, who is expected to be in the Cy Young conversation again. Any time you go up against a guy like Burnes, you know it will be a challenge and one that you need to capitalize on when you have an opportunity.

The Cubs did that as they chased Burnes after five innings of work and pushed home four runs, all coming in the third inning. Sometimes it is a matter of how many innings you score in, but the quality of those innings and the third inning was a quality frame.

Given an early lead, Stroman was able to settle in and wasn't challenged a ton throughout the game. Sure, he walked three hitters in the game, but most importantly, he went six shutout innings to pick up the opening-day win as the Cubs took down the Brewers 4-0. Stroman finished with eight strikeouts and needed 90 pitches to get through six innings, as he was as good as ever.

For as good as Stroman was, he did have some early troubles as the Brewers kept the pressure on him in the first. After striking out the first two batters of the game, Stroman allowed a two-out single to Willy Adames, followed by the walk to Rowdy Tellez as Milwaukee had two on and two outs. Stroman recovered and struck out William Contreras to end the threat.

It was in the third inning when the momentum swung in the Cubs favor, and you can credit Stroman for keeping his cool. Brice Turang led the inning off with his first MLB hit while a walk to Christian Yelich put a pair of runners on. Two batters later saw Stroman walk Adames to load the bases as he was put in a difficult spot. Not only was that the final walk of the game for him, but Stroman made the pitch he needed to make and induced an inning-ending double play to keep Milwaukee off the board.

That double play completely swung the momentum into the Cubs favor, and they ran with it in the bottom of the third. No one will argue that Burnes has been one of the best pitchers in the NL the past few seasons, but with three walks and three strikeouts on Thursday, he was not at his best. The Cubs offense made him work, and they capitalized on him for not having his best outing pushing across all four of their runs in this third inning.

That all started with a Patrick Wisdom walk before he was erased on a Fielder's Choice. A single from Nico Hoerner kept the line moving before Dansby Swanson put the Cubs in front for good, 2-0, with an RBI single.

Swanson was only given credit for one RBI as an error on the play allowed for the second run to score, but he was as good as advertised at the plate and in the field.

With a pair of runners on base and two down, Trey Mancini kept the inning alive with an RBI single as the lead grew to 3-0. Yan Gomes followed that up with an RBI fielder's choice to push the lead to 4-0 before the inning ended. Little did the Cubs know that would be all the offense they would need as Stroman and the pitching took care of the rest.

Getting that inning-ending double play ignited Stroman as he retired nine of the final 10 hitters he faced to get through six innings for a great first start. These are the kind of outings the Cubs will need from him this season, and going back to the end of last season, and he appears as dialed in as ever.

Despite their offensive barrage in the third, Burnes managed to recover while the rest of the Brewers pitching staff kept them quiet the rest of the way. That started with Peter Strzelecki in the sixth as he retired the Cubs in order. With Stroman finished after six, it became a question as to how David Ross would handle the pen the rest of the way.

That question was answered in a big way as Keegan Thompson entered to pitch the seventh and worked around a two-out walk to keep the shutout in line. Thompson also recorded a strikeout as he looked excellent. While their offense was mainly quiet after the third, the Cubs had a great chance to bust things open against the rookie Gus Varland in the seventh.

After earning a bullpen spot after a dominating spring, Varland struck out Miles Mastrobuoni to start the inning and then retired Hoerner to put himself in line to get out of the inning. Swanson was having none of that as he picked up his third straight hit with a single before an Ian Happ single and Cody Bellinger walk loaded the bases. With a chance to ice the game, Mancini couldn't get the job done as he grounded out to first to end the threat.

Unlike the Cubs, who gained the momentum after escaping a bases-loaded jam, the Brewers could not do that as Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer finished things off the final two frames to preserve the 4-0 shutout win. Boxberger struggled with his command before getting Adames to ground into an inning-ending double play, while Fulmer looked every bit of a closer in the ninth and recorded two strikeouts in the win.

The Cubs had six hits in the game, three coming from Swanson. Hoerner, Happ, and Mancini picked up the other three hits, with Swanson, Mancini, and Gomes picking up the RBIs. As a staff, the Cubs did walk five hitters, but struck out 12 to record the shutout. Milwaukee was held to four hits coming from four different players.

After an off day tomorrow, these teams will be back on the field Saturday as Brandon Woodruff and Justin Steele are set to battle it out. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:20, weather permitting, as the Cubs look for the series win.

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