CHICAGO (AP) — Marcus Stroman raised both arms and pounded his glove as the crowd at Wrigley Field roared following the final out.
He had silenced the team with the best record in baseball. And he did it with a performance he will never forget.
Stroman threw a one-hitter, and the Chicago Cubs beat the major league-leading Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Monday.
Stroman (5-4) dazzled in his fourth complete game and second shutout in nine major league seasons. His only other shutout was against the Cubs during his 2014 rookie season with Toronto.
“Throwing a CG at Wrigley, that’s like one of the top moments of my career,” Stroman said. “The energy. When I walk out there 40 minutes before the game, there’s a massive cheering section already.”
Stroman gave them plenty to cheer once he stepped on the mound.
He set a season high with 105 pitches and matched one with eight strikeouts. The right-hander walked one in winning his third straight start and helped the Cubs bounce back from a weekend sweep by Cincinnati.
The only hit Stroman allowed was when Wander Franco delivered a flare for a clean single to left leading off the seventh. Stroman walked Brandon Lowe and got out of that jam by getting Randy Arozarena to fly out and Josh Lowe to ground into a double play. The only other Rays runner to reach base was when Luke Raley was hit by a pitch leading off the third.
The shutout was the sixth this season for Chicago. Stroman was the first Cubs pitcher to go the distance without allowing a run since Alec Mills’ no-hitter at Milwaukee on Sept. 13, 2020.
“He just had really good stuff,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “When you have the stuff that he has, and the late movement with the sinker, we were very prepared and aware of what he was going to do. But sometimes all that awareness, it doesn’t matter if the pitcher’s executing like he did today.”
Stroman came in with a 5.04 ERA in 16 starts against Tampa Bay. But this time, he overwhelmed the Rays.
“It was like playing a video game,” Cubs catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “He made it super easy.”
Stroman made a neat play in the second when he snagged Taylor Walls’ comebacker and flipped the ball from his glove to his throwing hand before delivering an underhand toss to first for the out.
When it came to hits, there weren’t many close calls before Franco’s single. And he ended the game by retiring Franco on a grounder to first, just the third shutout against the Rays this year.
“I feel like that does a huge job for the bullpen,” Stroman said. “I feel like that just has a whole trickle down effect that’s positive on a team, when a guy’s able to go out there and go so many innings. He’s able to keep the bullpen fresh and give some momentum going into next game.”
The Cubs got their run in the fourth when Seiya Suzuki led off with a single, took second on a wild throw by third baseman Taylor Walls and scored on Mike Tauchman’s sacrifice fly. That was all Chicago needed to come away with the win after getting outscored 25-10 over three games by the Reds.
Rays rookie Taj Bradley (3-2) was a tough-luck loser in dropping his second straight start, allowing just one unearned run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old rookie right-hander struck out eight and walked one.
Rays: The Rays placed closer Pete Fairbanks (left hip inflammation) on the 15-day injured list. Manager Kevin Cash said Fairbanks texted that he was feeling better than he did when he left the ballpark on Sunday, though he was still sore. He is scheduled for more tests on Tuesday. Fairbanks was warming up in the bullpen during the Rays’ wild 11-10 win over the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers at home. But he left for the dugout after his hip locked up. Tampa Bay recalled RHP Trevor Kelley from Triple-A Durham.
Cubs: RHP Codi Heuer (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to pitch an inning for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday.
Rays LHP Shane McClanahan (8-0, 1.97 ERA) looks to increase his major league-leading win total, while Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 6.23) makes his second start since returning from a capsular tear in his right shoulder.