Chatwood goes 6 shutout innings as Chicago Cubs edge Diamondbacks
As far as Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was concerned, there was only one big story Sunday: pitcher Tyler Chatwood.
"It's the whole game," Maddon said after the Cubs pulled out a 2-1 victory in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. "It's all about Chatwood today.
"That was spectacular -- the command, the stuff, the ease with which he was throwing it. That was pretty outstanding.
"That's what we thought in the beginning. We've talked about it a lot. As he gains feel for what he's doing, he's capable of that."
Chatwood didn't get the "W" next to his name, as the Diamondbacks tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the ninth inning, when Jarrod Dyson homered off Cubs closer Pedro Strop.
David Bote might have been the star of the postgame party, too, had he not had to fly to Colorado to be with his wife, who was about to give birth.
Bote's RBI single to right-center -- the fourth walk-off event of his young career -- scored Javier Baez with the winning run after more derring-do from Baez on the basepaths.
Baez led off with a double to right field, but he kept going to third as Adam Jones bobbled the ball. After Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch from Archie Bradley, Bote lined a 2-1 pitch for the game-winner and then dashed to the airport.
That left the postgame spotlight to Chatwood, whose control problems cost him his job in the starting rotation last year.
Making his first start of this season (with injured ace Jon Lester on the injured list), Chatwood worked 6 shutout innings, giving up 2 hits while walking two and striking out three in helping the Cubs even their record to 10-10.
Chatwood's first pitch of the game went to the backstop, and he walked leadoff man Dyson, sending a nervous shudder through the 38,191 fans at Wrigley on a sunny and beautiful Easter Sunday.
But a double-play grounder by Wilmer Flores and a groundout by David Peralta settled Chatwood down, and he kept right on going.
"I think everybody saw kind of what I went through last year, how hard I was trying to get back to being me," he said. "Obviously, you can see the difference of what I did in the off-season, how hard I worked in the off-season. I think everybody's happy to see that come into fruition. So it was good."
Chatwood wound up throwing 71 pitches, 44 strikes. That's about what Maddon was hoping for, and he turned to the bullpen in the seventh, with Kyle Ryan, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek earning holds before Strop suffered the blown save but got the victory.
"As a competitor, you always want to stay out there," Chatwood said. "I'm not going to lie, I was pretty gassed. I don't think I've thrown that many pitches for a while. But it was nice to get through 6."
As for Baez, he broke a scoreless tie in the sixth. Anthony Rizzo was hit by starter Robbie Ray's pitch with two outs. Baez then sent the next pitch to the wall in right-center for a triple.
In the ninth, it was vintage Baez, as he read the play, watched third-base coach Brian Butterfield and hustled to third base when given the slightest opening.
"Usually, when we go around first, we look for our third-base coach," he said. "I knew where the ball was. He (Jones) bobbled it, because of the wall. I just saw that it went pretty far from him, so I took the chance.
"I'm always looking out for another bag. Sometimes the outfielder just throws the ball really slow to the infield. It's just a couple things, a couple small things that we can get better at. Once I can take another bag, I will."