One home run clanged off the left-field foul pole. Another sailed into the seats nearby. Other hits bounced off the outfield wall or found holes in the infield. For Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood, this was more than one bad night at the office. It must have felt like an entire month.
Virtually perfect in his first two starts of 2020, Chatwood was clobbered for eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings as the Royals snapped the high-flying Cubs’ six-game winning streak with 18 hits in a 13-2 victory Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.
“I made good pitches, and they hit ‘em,” Chatwood said. “I made bad pitches, and they hit ‘em.”
The Cubs’ rotation entered the game with a 1.95 ERA, which was baseball’s best. But that number rose as things got out of hand early, when the Royals sent 11 men to the plate and scored six runs in the third inning to run their lead to 9-0.
“I thought he was actually throwing the ball pretty good,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “You know, some balls found holes, and they took advantage of the mistakes he made. That’s just baseball.”
The Cubs dropped to 10-3 as they head for for Busch Stadium to begin a 15-game stretch against the Cardinals, Indians, Brewers and White Sox.
Ross put the ball in Craig Kimbrel’s hand in the eighth inning to give the struggling reliever a chance to work in the lowest of low-leverage situations.
Kimbrel allowed the first three Royals to reach base, then got three straight outs and allowed just one run. He also induced two swings (one whiff) off his curveball -- the first swings it's generated this season.
“He wanted to get some work,” Ross said. “He needed to get out there in that competition to work through some things. He wants to be better, and you can see it on his face and understand he's not where he wants to be quite yet. We’ve got a lot of games left. And like I said a number of times, we need him to be a big part of [our team].”
Ross began getting some of his starting position players out of the game in the fifth inning. To get Jason Heyward out of the game in the ninth inning, he sent starting pitcher Alec Mills up to pinch-hit under orders not to swing the bat.
As for Chatwood, everything that could go wrong did. In one night, his dazzling 0.71 ERA ballooned to 5.40.
Whit Merrifield’s two-run home run off the left-field foul pole in the second made it 3-0, and then things came undone an inning later when the Royals got a two-run home run from Maikel Franco and doubles from Adalberto Mondesi, Alex Gordon, Nick Heath and Salvador Perez on their way to a six-run, six-hit inning.
“I think my stuff was all still there,” Chatwood said. “You know, maybe not as sharp as I wanted to be with the sinker. But I still feel good. I made some good pitches that found holes and then I left a couple cutters [in the] middle that they barreled up.”