Thompson's return to Cubs filled with frustration

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Keegan Thompson (71) throws against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning Saturday at Wrigley Field.

    Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Keegan Thompson (71) throws against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning Saturday at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/21/2021 8:51 PM

Keegan Thompson's return to the big leagues featured a tough challenge in the top of the first inning.

Thompson threw 31 pitches, gave up a single and double to the first two batters and had a run-in with the home plate umpire, but managed to get out of it while allowing just 1 run.

 

"They were fouling off really good pitches with the cutter and stuff in the first inning," Thompson said. "I think we just tried to go after them more and let them put the ball in play the last three innings and it kind of worked out for us a little bit.

"Overall, I think it was OK. I battled out there, I did what I could. Not what I wanted, but it's not terrible."

Thompson ended up pitching 4 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, with 2 walks and 1 strikeouts, while throwing 73 pitches.

After a double by shortstop Nicky Lopez, the Royals had runners on second and third with nobody out in the first inning, then Whit Merrifleld scored on a wild pitch. Thompson got a ground out and strikeout, then walked Michael Taylor before ending the inning with a fly to left by Ryan O'Hearn.

Both Taylor and O'Hearn fouled off 5 pitches, and Thompson threw 3 pitches that missed the strike zone by an inch or two. At one point, he got frustrated by the lack of a strike call, prompting home plate umpire Jerry Meals to walk out from behind the plate, take off his mask and say something to Thompson. Cubs manager David Ross came out of the dugout to see what was going on, but there were no ejections.

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"It was a long inning, I was frustrated from all the foul balls from the guy before him and that batter," Thompson said. "I thought it was a good pitch. I was frustrated, I yelled. I don't know if I yelled at him (Meals) or not. That was all it was. I was just frustrated.

"I did what I wanted to do, they were just fouling balls off. I thought they were good pitches. They're good hitters. That happens sometimes."

Thompson, a former Auburn star, made his major league debut early this season, started once against the Dodgers in May, and spent most of his time in the bullpen.

Thompson went down to Iowa a few weeks ago to get stretched out so he could try starting in the majors. He was a starter throughout his minor league run with the Cubs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Obviously it wasn't fun to hear that I was going back down to Iowa to get stretched out," he said. "But I think in the long run it's going to be the best thing for me. I had success in Triple A, so I can't say it was a hard time down there. I just tried to get back up here as soon as possible."

With Thompson being recalled, the Cubs sent pitcher Jake Jewell back to Iowa.

The Cubs got a tough break on Kansas City's third run. Andrew Benintendi was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Taylor double. But a replay review ruled Cubs catcher Robinson Chirinos was illegally blocking the plate, even though the throw had the runner beat easily.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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