Thompson’s Tone: Rookie turns heads in first MLB start with Cubs
It wasn’t the stout, 1-run, complete game that Kyle Hendricks pitched in Game 1, but the 3.2 shutout innings that Keegan Thompson pitched were arguably just as big for the Cubs in 4-3, game 2 win over the Dodgers.
And given how long the day felt for Thompson, that was more than enough.
“I think today I had a lot more time for the nerves to hit,” Thompson said. “Today, you have all day to just kinda sit there and wait for your game to start so the nerves were a little bit more today.
With the Cubs placing three players on the injured list ahead of Tuesday’s doubleheader, they turned to the rookie to start the nightcap.
Facing a lineup filled with all-stars and accomplished names, Thompson showed poise. He went in and pitched strongly in his first MLB start, going toe-to-toe with 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer.
“I’m glad it looked like I was in control of my emotions, because inside it was a whirlwind,” Thompson said.
His manager took notice, too.
“It looked like he felt right out there on the mound,” David Ross said. “Great poise. Really a nice start for him. It was really comfortable sitting over there watching him pitch.”
He showed grit, too, escaping a first and second, no-out jam in the 1st inning by inducing a double play and then a groundout. In the 2nd inning, he induced another double play to escape another threat.
“It was huge,” Thompson said. “I had a couple of double plays tonight and it’s great having a good defense behind me to help me out.”
He pitched a 1-2-3 3rd inning and allowed induced a groundout and flyout sandwiched between a walk before his day was done.
It kept the ever-dangerous Dodger lineup at bay and gave the Cubs an opportunity to sweep the split doubleheader with the defending World Series champions.
While the Cubs won the game in extra innings, Thompson’s role shouldn’t be understated.
“It was unbelievable,” Thompson said. “Just to start a game at Wrigley Field was something I didn’t think would happen. It was just an unreal experience.
“It’s just like a dream. Wrigley’s like one of the oldest stadiums in the league and just such a cool atmosphere to be a part of. It’s always just been a dream to throw here. It was really cool.”