The reeling Cubs faced what looked like an impossible challenge this Memorial Day with mighty Tampa Bay in for a series. A sensational starting pitching performance from their ace led to a shutout against the slugging Rays and Wrigley was happy again for at least one day.
Marcus Stroman was sharp from the opening pitch on Monday and allowed only a single runner to reach on a hit batter in the first six innings. Young Tampa starter Taj Bradley was very good as well and kept the Cubs lineup down for most of the game.
Chicago would score the game’s only run in the bottom of the 4th thanks to an error. Seiya Suzuki hit a ground ball to third baseman Taylor Walls, whose rushed throw sailed into the stands, allowing the runner to move to second on the infield single. Suzuki tagged and advanced to third on a Dansby Swanson fly ball, then came in to score on a Mike Tauchman sacrifice fly.
That run would be enough for Stroman, who went the distance for a complete game shutout. The diminutive hurler only gave up one hit all afternoon as the Cubs took home a much-needed 1-0 victory. (Box score)
Tampa got the first two runners on base in the top of the 7th inning after a single and a walk. Stroman got a fly out to right from Randy Arozarena and then coaxed Josh Lowe to hit a double-play grounder to Swanson at short and escaped the jam.
Why the Cubs Won
This was entirely a pitcher win, though they did a very nice job manufacturing the only tally with heads up baserunning by Suzuki.
Stats That Matter
- Stroman has allowed two runs over 17 innings pitched in his last two starts and Monday was his best effort in a Cubs uniform: 9 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 8 K, and 1 BB.
- Chicago only reached base five times the entire game.
With the myriad issues the Cubs bullpen has had recently, it felt like their only chance to win would be a complete game by a starter. Stroman did just that and is singlehandedly keeping the bottom from completely falling out on the North Siders’ season. The victory also distracted from a poorly-constructed lineup that played right into the opposing starter’s strengths.
Chicago will try to stun everyone by winning the series from the Rays Tuesday at 7:05pm CT. Kyle Hendricks makes his second start against Cy Young contender Shane McClanahan with the broadcast on Marquee and 670 The Score.