Monday, September 26, 2022

Column: Marcus Strowman quickly bonds with Wrigley Field fans, but his strong Chicago Cubs start is doomed

When Marcus Strowman walked out for the Chicago Cubs bullpen against the Milwaukee Brewers 40 minutes before Sunday’s match, he raised his head and encouraged fans to cheer quickly.

It was a perfect start to the anticipated debut of “The Stroll Show,” the nickname given to the veteran starter, whom the Cubs signed to a three-year, $71 million deal on the eve of the lockout.

Not having a Cubs pitcher, towel-waving reliever Dick Selma in 1969 takes it upon himself to revive fans into a party atmosphere.

“I’ve been like that, my man, forever,” Strowman said. “I love energy. I’m not your typical baseball player who’s going to be a robot out there. I appreciate people and I’m going to let them know that I appreciate them.”

“I’ve always been like that. I love feeling that out of the crowd. You can feel that buzz, that energy, the second you go there, and I’m someone who gives it away I’m excited to be a Cubs and I can’t wait to try it out every time.”

Strowman worked his way up in his first outing at Wrigley Field, allowing one run on two hits in five innings and left with a two-run lead. But the bullpen suffered a 5–4 loss to the Brewers, who avoided the sweep and finally showed why they are the consensus favorites in the National League Central.

Brewers pitchers hit 13 Cubs and allowed four hits, only one after the second inning. Overall, the Cubs were content to win the series and get big performances from their two leading free agents, Strowman and Seiya Suzuki, who hit their first major-league home run on Sunday and finished the series with an average of .375 and six. RBI.

Three Cubs starts – Kyle Hendrix, Justin Steele and Strowman – allowed 15 strikeouts for a 1.19 ERA and 11 hits in 15⅓ innings, a good omen for a team that doesn’t seem to score a lot of runs this year.

But Sunday belonged to Strowman, who had to wait after two games and one rain to make his Cubs debut.

Manager David Ross already said, “I didn’t want to bring him back in Game 3.” “From my perspective, there was probably talk of this guy being our opening-day starter. … I hope fans are excited. I’m definitely excited to see him compete and go about my business. I thought it was a good signing for us.”

Suzuki’s first home run — a three-run, 412-foot blast into left-field bleachers in the first — gave Strowman some early breathing room. Japanese star and third base coach Willie Harris snubbed each other as Suzuki finished third, a gesture Suzuki said was Harris’s idea.

“I’ve never done it in Japan,” he said. “But I was talking to my third base coach, Willie Harris, and he said it was boring going into the third round without a performance. It felt like we wanted to do something.”

Sammy Sosa was the last Cubs to bow after a home run, which he did during a few Cactus League games in 1999, saying it was a tribute to Japan, which he toured in the off-season. But Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Todd Stottlemire complained that Sosa was showboating, but the Cubs told Sosa to stop bowing.

It was a different era, however, and Cubs fans seemed to be enjoying Suzuki’s bow. He said he is “still thinking” whether to make it a new tradition after the home race.

Strowman may also have started a new tradition, coming out to pitch with a white durag under his blue Cubs hat. He added that he is exaggerating his fears and has other colorful durags that he can wear this year.

Strowman said she “feels cold” walking out of the mound and that having a tight bond with the fan base was “something I’ve wanted my entire career.” His only fault occurred in the third, a home single run by Willie Adams on a 3-2 sinker, and he said he felt strong enough to go longer than five.

But Ross picks him up after 88 pitches because, like most managers this April, he has a start on a strict pitch count due to short spring training.

“I have a lot of respect for that guy, so I’ll never challenge him,” Strowman said of Ross’s decision. “It’s a journey. It’s a process. We want to be healthy and play playoff baseball throughout August, September, and October, so Rossi has to adjust to health and make sure we don’t overdo it.” “

Ross compared Strowman’s preparation and work ethic to that of John Lester, whose 2015 signing for the Cubs turned into a franchise-changing moment.

“When you first go around John and see him, they come to work and it first works and then ‘I’m going to be like a teammate,'” Ross said. “This man comes, gets his work done and is diligent for what he wants to do – his preparation. His routine so far is different.”

Reliever Jesse Chavez served a two-run home run to Rowdy Tellez in the sixth of three runs, blowing the lead and giving Strowman a chance to win. The Cubs got a gift in the bottom of the sixth when a two-out walk by Jake Cousins, an error and two wild pitches brought home the tying run without a hit. But the Brewers took the lead in the seventh on Mike Broseau’s pinch-hit home run off Daniel Norris.

It looked for a second as the Cubs tied it again in seventh when Jonathan Villar tried to shorten a slow roller with two outs and a runner on third. Adams made a fine pickup and barely caught Willer, who attempted a headfirst slide. After a lengthy replay review, the call was confirmed.

“One hundred percent I thought I was safe,” Willer said. “But that’s baseball.”

The Cubs had no chance against Devin Williams and close friend Josh Haider. Suzuki was called on to strike without taking the bat off the shoulder against Williams in the eighth, and Haider scored two runs in the perfect ninth.

A day after Monday’s break, the Cubs begin their journey to Pittsburgh and Colorado, where they will face former Cubs star Kris Bryant. Strowman is already looking forward to his next start at Wrigley, a place he believes has an advantage in the home field like no other ballpark.

“It’s super rare in baseball,” he said. “I don’t know if you guys know that or if you guys are spoiled by this crowd. I’m excited for every game.”

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Nation World News Desk
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