Tyler Chatwood is the Cubs' fifth starter, but he started a pretty nice run by the team's pitchers, and he kept it going Sunday.
Chatwood worked 7 shutout innings as the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0 to complete a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field.
Back on April 24, Chatwood started a run of 6 straight quality starts as he went 6-innings of 1-run ball to beat the Indians in Cleveland.
The Cubs are 5-1 in that stretch, and what their starting pitchers did against the Brewers over the weekend is even more impressive.
In the four games, pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana and Chatwood gave up no earned runs in 27 innings. Overall, they have gone 28 straight innings without yielding an earned run, marking the longest stretch by Cubs pitchers since July 4-8, 1976 in a 32-inning stretch.
"I didn't realize all of that," manager Joe Maddon said about the pitching in general. "I knew it was pretty good, but that's pretty astonishing.
"Give our guys credit. We knew that coming in, that the starters can be that good. Kind of adverse circumstances weather wise. We did a really good job with that. We caught the ball, too … Defense has been outstanding this whole series. The pitching, of course, has. The bullpen, really good. And we've got the quality at-bat we've needed. So it's kind of a nice recipe."
The Cubs have 13 quality starts for the season. In those games, the team is 9-4, and the starters have an ERA of 0.99.
It will be up to No. 1 starter Jon Lester to keep that going in Monday night's series opener against the Rockies. From the back end of the rotation, Chatwood (2-3, 2.83 ERA) says the success can be contagious.
"That's pretty cool to be part of it," he said. "You don't want to be the guy left behind. So I think everybody's kind of pushing each other. I think that's what good rotations do. Obviously, we have a good one here. So it's going to be fun throughout the whole season feeding off each other and having performances like we have this past series."
The interesting thing about Sunday for Chatwood was how he searched for his command early and then found it. He walked the first batter of the game, Lorenzo Cain, on four pitches and threw only 8 strikes in his first 17 pitches. He allowed a walk in the second, but after giving up a two-out hit in the third, he retired the next 11 batters.
"Two-seam," he said, referring to his sinking fastball. "That's kind of who I am, throwing a lot of two-seams, getting early contact and groundballs. With that defense we have behind us, utilizing that, I just feel I haven't been doing that as well as I know I could. So today that was the big focus, just throwing two-seams and trying to get quick outs and groundballs, and I was able to do that."
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead against Brewers starter Zach Davies in the fifth. Addison Russell led off with an opposite-field triple to the right-field corner. After Jason Heyward struck out, Chatwood helped himself with an RBI single to center field. The Cubs made it 2-0 in the sixth. Anthony Rizzo was hit by a Davies pitch with one out. Willson Contreras' double moved Rizzo to third. After Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked, Russell hit a sacrifice fly to center.
Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow (seventh save) finished up for the Cubs, who are 15-10. They also have beaten the Brewers seven out of eight times this year, with 5 shutouts.
"We've played them eight times this month, which is pretty significant," Maddon said. "When you can play somebody in your own division eight times and do well, it's always a boon. They came in winning eight in a row, also. We'll take it. I have a lot of respect for them. Hey, we didn't beat up their pitching, either. Don't be deceived here. They pitched really well, too. They played really well, too.
"We just happen to have pitched a little bit better in the series. They're a very good ballclub. We just happened to get them this time, but they're never to be taken for granted."