Marcus Stroman, who grew up just down the road from Citi Field on New York’s Long Island and who pitched for the Mets for two years, threw perhaps his best game as a Cub against his former team on a chilly, windy Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
Stroman became the first Cubs starter to throw eight full innings this year and the Cubs got just enough timely hitting and defeated the Mets 4-2, winning the series.
The visitors scored first. Stroman had retired the first seven Mets he faced when Mark Canha singled with one out in the second inning. Francisco Alvarez followed by slicing a line-drive home run into the left field bleachers on a night when the wind was blowing strongly in at 17 miles per hour.
The Cubs, however, did not waste time getting those runs back and more. Mets starter Kodai Senga had already shown some signs of wildness in the first two innings, as the Cubs drew one walk off him in each. Nico Hoerner led off the third with walk number three off Senga. One out later, he scored on this double by Dansby Swanson [VIDEO].
Ian Happ then struck out, but Seiya Suzuki then smacked another double, scoring Swanson and tying the game 2-2 [VIDEO].
That didn’t miss the basket by much, but it didn’t matter, as Suzuki scored on this single by Mike Tauchman [VIDEO].
That gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. I’ve been somewhat critical of Tauchman, but he is doing a reasonable impression of Cody Bellinger while Bellinger is on the IL, going 4-for-11 with three walks and playing good defense in center field.
The Cubs drew two more walks off Senga in the fourth but could not score, and then stranded two more runners in the fifth, both on singles. The 3-2 lead was nice, but it could have been larger with some further hitting, as the Cubs stranded eight runners over the first five innings.
Stroman, meanwhile, was getting tons of ground ball outs, which is his specialty. He also had help from this weird play in the fourth inning [VIDEO].
What was Pete Alonso thinking? He slid into second base, then stood up as if he had been waiting for... I have no idea. In any case, Happ caught the shallow fly ball and easily doubled Alonso off first base.
In the sixth, Stroman started this nice 1-6-3 double play [VIDEO].
In the seventh, Stroman showed off his athletic skills [VIDEO].
Many times when a fielder does a jump like that, it’s for show. Not that time! Stroman needed every ounce of leverage on that throw and got the out to end the seventh inning.
Stroman struggled a bit in the eighth, issuing two walks, but got out of it with the third Cubs double play of the game. Overall Stroman recorded 17 of his 24 outs on ground balls, one of his best such outings since he’s been a Cub.
It might have been nice to see him try for a complete game, but at 88 pitches and with three lefthanded hitters coming up in the ninth, the right call was to Mark Leiter Jr., who has been excellent vs. LHB this year.
Leiter got Brandon Nimmo to ground to second on one pitch. Then he ran a 3-2 count on Francisco Lindor, who took his one batter timeout after that — and got roundly booed. Leiter struck him out on a nasty cutter.
Lefthanded batters are now 8-for-51 vs. Leiter in 2023 with 23 strikeouts.
That was another satisfying win and I’m going to close the complaint department again. Incidentally, if you watched this game you likely noticed that Marquee Sports Network covered all of “Go Cubs Go” after the final out. I’ve confirmed with Marquee that they will do this after every Cubs win from now on. Let’s hope we see that quite a bit going forward.
A couple more notes on this game:
- Christopher Morel went 1-for-4, a single, so his hitting streak continued, now at 13 games. The other two streaks he was on — a run and hit in 12 straight games (franchise record) and a home run in five games in a row — ended, but they were sure fun while they lasted, and Morel appears to be in the big leagues to stay.
- With the Cubs scoring runs in this game, that set a Modern Era franchise record, scoring at least one run in the first 48 games to begin a season. The previous record of 47 was established in 1995. The overall franchise record is 91 games, set in 1898.
- The Cubs drew six walks for the third straight game and they have 33 in their last six games. That gives them 185 for the season; the current pace would give them 624 for the season. The franchise record is 656, set in 2016.
- As noted above, Stroman became the first Cubs starter to throw eight full innings this year. The only other Cubs starter to throw in the eighth inning this year is Drew Smyly, who did it in his near-perfect game against the Dodgers April 21. This starting pitching trio has been impressive:
Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele and Drew Smyly have combined to go 15-6 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 158 strikeouts vs. 51 walks in 180.2 IP (31 combined starts) so far this season for the Cubs.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 25, 2023
The Cubs will go for the series sweep Thursday evening at Wrigley Field and there’s some news!
Kyle Hendricks will make his season debut tomorrow, Ross says.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) May 25, 2023
Jameson Taillon will now start Saturday.
It’s not yet clear who will be taken off the 26-man active roster for Hendricks, though it could be Javier Assad, who had been recalled Wednesday when Nick Burdi went on the injured list.
Hendricks will face Mets righthander Carlos Carrasco, who himself spent some time on the IL earlier this year with an elbow issue.
Game time Thursday is again 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Mets market territories).