CHICAGO — If you’re going to have a milestone start, you might as well make it one to remember.
That’s what Marcus Stroman did on a sunny day at Wrigley Field on Friday as he continues a strong first two weeks of the season.
Making his 200th start of his career, the Cubs’ pitcher threw six shutout innings against the Rangers in a 2-0 win that begins a six-game homestand at the Friendly Confines.
Cody Bellinger’s single in the fourth and Ian Happ’s double in the sixth were the only runs the home team would need thanks to the starter.
Stroman allowed just two hits while striking out six batters compared to three walks in 89 pitches. Only one runner reached third base all day, and that was in his last inning, as the starter mostly stayed out of trouble all day.
Mark Leiter Jr. pitched a clean seventh inning before Michael Fulmer struck out four in the final two frames to preserve the shutout as the Cubs evened their record at 3-3.
This performance is on-par with his Opening Day start against the Brewers on March 30, when Stroman pitched six shutout innings with three hits allowed, and eight strikeouts compared to three walks on 90 pitches.
When asked about his feelings about the strong start after the game, Stroman pointed to his work before the year along with the Cubs’ coaching staff as reasons for the success.
“It feels good,” said Stroman. “I’m a worker. I’m always working in the offseason. It’s kind of a testament to everything that goes into it. I feel like me and the coaches here are on a really good program, me and (Cubs physical therapist) Nate (Whitney), I work with every day as far as getting my body ready.
“Then me and (Cubs pitching coach) Tommy (Hottovy), ‘Mosk’ (Cubs assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos), and all the pitching coaches, we’re dialed in as far as my mechanics.
“I’m very good when it comes pitch-to-pitch, I’m able to feel my body. I feel like I’m one of the better ones at making adjustments in the league because of how much time I spend on my body, so pitch-to-pitch I’m able to make corrections. If I don’t, Tommy’s usually picking it up, somebody’s picking it up where they’re allowing me to correct it earlier rather than later.
“So I feel like we’ve got a great system here.”
By picking up the win, Stroman’s record for his career moves over .500 as he is now 68-67 during his time with the Cubs, Blue Jays, and Mets.