Cubs: Marcus Stroman celebrates his birthday by dominating the Brewers

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman spent his 31st birthday in Milwaukee on Sunday, giving all of us as fans as big a gift as he gave himself: a dominant showing against the rival Brewers, salvaging the finale of a three-game set at American Family Field.

After being outscored 20-2 in the first two games of the series, Stroman out-dueled Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes in a Sunday matinee, tossing seven scoreless innings en route to a 2-0 Chicago victory.

It hasn’t been the storybook start to his Cubs career we’d hoped for, but getting back-to-back quality starts from the veteran is a definite step in the right direction. With the rotation in general disarray, the importance of Stroman has only grown of late – and he stepped up as a stopper in the finale, helping the Cubs avoid a fourth-straight loss and series sweep.

Chicago has an off-day Monday before hosting the White Sox for a quick two-game stint at Wrigley Field starting Tuesday. Another off-day Thursday precedes a weekend set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, during which Stroman is slated for his next start.

It’s a tough stretch of schedule for the North Siders, who are just 9-13 heading into Monday’s travel day. The offense was slowed dramatically this weekend, tallying a grand total of four runs over the course of the three-game series. Even Seiya Suzuki has come back to earth – although we got Patrick Wisdom’s fourth homer of the year on Sunday.

Cubs will need Marcus Stroman during this tough two-week stretch

Stroman’s outing pulls the Cubs within four games of first-place in the NL Central. After last Saturday’s blowout 21-0 win, the team carried a wildly skewed run differential. This weekend’s series loss, however, erases that – and David Ross’ club enters the crosstown showdown with a dead-even 0 run differential.

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The next three series sees Chicago square off with the White Sox, Dodgers and Padres – all legitimate postseason contenders. It’ll prove to be a serious test for a scrappy team looking to surprise some folks and getting quality starting pitching – like what we got from Stroman on Sunday – will be a big piece of the puzzle.