Thornburg leads Brewers over Cubs

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By Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, September 19, 2013

MILWAUKEE--Tyler Thornburg has been the epitome of consistency as a starting pitcher in the major leagues this season.

Six starting assignments.

Six innings each time out.

Six quality starts (three earned runs or fewer).

What more could the Milwaukee Brewers ask from a rookie pitcher who wants to get in the discussion for the starting rotation in 2014?

Thornburg carved up the hapless Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night, allowing two hits over six shutout innings as the Brewers cruised to a 7-0 victory at Miller Park. The Cubs did not advance a runner beyond first base against Thornburg, who has a 1.25 earned run average in his half-dozen starts.

“As far as similar, the six innings, yes, but all of them have been incredibly different,” said Thornburg. “A lot of times I’ve had to battle with a lot of runners in scoring position. This one, I don’t think a runner got in scoring position.

“One of the things I pride myself on is consistency. I try to keep it three (runs) or less every time. I really didn’t have a changeup tonight. I threw it a couple of times for strikes, but other than that I really didn’t have command of it.”

The only hits off Thornburg were a two-out single by Ryan Sweeney in the second inning and a two-out single by Nate Schierholtz in the fourth. Thornburg walked two and struck out four.

“He has been good,” manager Ron Roenicke said after the Brewers boosted their record to 13-5 against the Cubs. “He’s pitching great; he’s confident. He gets a little wild at times and then he comes back and makes great pitches. He has three really good pitches—really good fastball, great curveball, really good changeup.

“I don’t have any thoughts on where this guy projects out but having plus pitches like he does, and making so many good pitches when he needs to, if he can find that rhythm and that command that keeps getting better as he pitches, we’ve got a really nice guy.”

The Brewers have funneled more freshmen through Miller Park this season than a fraternity pledge class and they continue to make a difference over the final weeks of the season. First baseman Sean Halton continued his recent spurt with his first big-league grand slam as the Brewers bolted to a 5-0 lead in the first inning.

Later, outfielder Khris Davis whacked his 10th homer of the season in only his 116th at-bat with the Brewers.

“I didn’t play that long in the big leagues but I never hit a grand slam and I never hit a walk-off homer and he’s done it in a short time,” Roenicke said of Halton. “He plays a good first base, which I like. I think that’s important—the defense at first. And he keeps coming up with these big hits.

“These young guys are playing well. There were some very kind things said about (Davis) today (during the team’s organizational meeting).”

It didn’t take Cubs starter Chris Rusin long to find trouble. With one down in the bottom of the first, Jean Segura walked, Jonathan Lucroy singled and Aramis Ramirez punched a run-scoring single to center, though Segura strained his right hamstring scoring from second and left the game.

“It’s not bad but, saying that, we’ll see how many days it’s going to be,” said Roenicke.

After Carlos Gomez flied out to right, Davis walked to load the bases. Halton worked the count to 3-2 against Rusin and went the other way with a 90-mph fastball, smacking it into the picnic area beyond the right-field wall for his first major-league grand slam.

“It doesn’t have to go over by much,” said Halton, who has three home runs and nine RBI in his last six games. “It was a fastball up and out. I think he wanted it in and it kind of came back over (the plate). I was just trying to put something in play.”

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