Third time no charm as Woodruff shuts down Cubs again
It's still April and the Cubs have faced Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff three times already.
Here are his numbers from those three outings: 19 innings pitched, 1 run, 6 hits, 3 walks and 22 strikeouts, good for a 0.47 ERA.
Cubs managed to win one of those games when Willson Contreras hit a 2-run homer off reliever Devin Williams on April 13. But Sunday at Wrigley Field, there was nothing happening. Woodruff kept the Cubs offense locked down for six innings on the way to a 6-0 victory.
"His sinker, his fastball, it was moving," Anthony Rizzo said. "It had extra life today. It was two-seaming hard and down. His changeup was the best I've seen his changeup, and he commanded his off-speed. It's fun facing him because you know he's coming at you and we just didn't have it today."
The Cubs (10-11) went down in order the first three innings, then got a few hits and baserunners the rest of the way. But the closest they came to actually scoring was probably on a deep fly ball by Javy Baez in the second inning that would have likely been a home run had the wind not been blowing straight from center.
Woodruff threw consistently at 96 to 97 mph, but his mix of pitches makes it tough to lock in.
"I think commanding two fastballs is a big deal," Nico Hoerner said. "A lot of guys with that much velocity don't have command of two fastballs. A four-seam up and away and a sinker down and in are pretty different pitches to handle. There's a lot of stuff between that 95-98 range, but they're coming in different angles, different locations, different movement."
The Cubs scored 15 runs in Friday's series opener, but ended up going 3-6 in this April battle with the Brewers, dropping two of three in each series.
Milwaukee scored in the top of the first inning against Jake Arrieta on Friday and the game stayed 1-0 through eight innings. But Cubs reliever Jason Adam had a miserable top of the ninth. He gave up 3 hits and 2 walks without retiring a batter and ended up getting pegged for 5 earned runs, even with Dillon Maples doing a decent job of working out of the jam.
Arrieta started the game by giving up a double to Kolten Wong, single to Omar Narvaez, then two walks to force in a run. From that point, he was solid, retiring the next 15 batters in a row. In the sixth, the Brewers put the first two runners on with a walk and error, before Arrieta (3-2) struck out the side to finish his day with 101 pitches.
"The bases-loaded walk to (Travis) Shaw, pretty nice pitch," said Arrieta, who lowered his season ERA to 2.57. "I feel like it could have gone either way. Not a bad call, not a bad take by Shaw. But threw it pretty much exactly where I'd like to put that pitch in that situation. It just went the other way.
"I understood that was about as much as I could give up if we wanted a chance to win the ballgame. Sometimes you've got to bear down and make big pitches."
Contreras got a well-deserved day off, but did come in to catch in the ninth inning. Kris Bryant started in the outfield for the fifth straight game. Hoerner got his third straight start, playing both second base and center field on Sunday.
The Cubs now hit the road for a four-game series in Atlanta, beginning Monday.