Big bats bail out Tyler Chatwood in Cubs’ 8-3 victory

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Javier Baez celebrates with teammate Albert Almora after the Cubs’ comeback win over the Giants on Sunday night.

Early in spring training, Joe Maddon heaped praise upon his new starting rotation.

Yu Darvish had ace potential. Tyler Chatwood figured to thrive away from the thin air of Coors Field. Jose Quintana could turn heads in his first full season on the North Side. Add in Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, and the Cubs’ starters were stacked.

“I did make the comment before the -season began about being excited about the rotation, probably the best one I’ve seen since I’ve been here, which I still believe you’re going to see,” Maddon said. “It just hasn’t transpired yet.”

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As for when that will transpire, Maddon cannot say. But he is doubling down on his belief despite evidence to the contrary.

The latest ugly outing came from Chatwood in Sunday’s series finale against the Giants, but the Cubs’ bats and bullpen arms bailed him out. Javy Baez drilled a three-run blast as the Cubs stormed back for an 8-3 -victory.

Kris Bryant and Albert Almora ripped run-scoring doubles as the Cubs erased an early deficit. Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Tommy La Stella also drove in one run apiece.

Randy Rosario (1-0) earned his first career victory with 2„ scoreless innings of relief.

“Guys didn’t quit,” Maddon said.

The comeback did little to quell long-term questions about the starting rotation.

Chatwood lasted only 2‰ innings as he displayed the same control problems that have hounded him all season. He loaded the bases in all three innings he took the mound. He walked five batters, including a pair of walks to Giants pitcher Ty Blach (.050 batting average). He also gave up six hits before leaving to scattered boos.

In 48„ innings, Chatwood has issued 45 walks, which leads the majors.

“It’s a grind,” Chatwood said. “You’re going to hit points in the season, and it just so -happens mine is right now, and it’s being magnified because I’m giving up walks. It’s just a matter of figuring that out and getting on the right track.”

The Cubs plan to keep Chatwood in the rotation while they try to help with his command. Catcher Willson Contreras offered tough love by delivering stern words during a mound visit, while Maddon and others foresee a less hostile approach.

“We have work to do,” Maddon said. “He has work to do. I’m not saying by any means give up on him. I really believe in this fellow, the stuff is that good.”

Can the Cubs contend if three-fifths of their rotation is ailing (Darvish), inconsistent (Quintana) or erratic (Chatwood)?

“When we get them all five firing on the same path, that’s when we can get really hot,” Maddon said. “It’s hard to get that really good roll without consistent starting pitching. That’s always been my experience. We have it. It just hasn’t shown itself consistently yet, but I believe it will.”

Consistency requires good health. The Cubs put Darvish on the 10-day disabled list Saturday because of right triceps tendonitis, and he is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Tuesday.

“It’s just making sure,” Maddon said. “It’s one of those things hopefully that we can tell him, ‘Listen, it’s nothing really serious, there’s nothing awful to be concerned about.’ ”

Still, Maddon acknowledged “mild concern” about Darvish’s arm.

“If you feel something in your bread and butter, you’re going to be concerned,” he said.

Yet the manager’s Memorial Day message to Cubs fans is clear: Be patient. This is a winning team.

“Stay the course,” Maddon said. “Nobody get too nuts. Let’s just stay in the present tense and get the guys on track on the mound, and then we’ve got a chance to take off.”

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