Edwards' shirt, performance garner attention

Cubs rookie reliever retires heart of Brewers' order in latest impressive effort

Edwards' shirt, performance garner attention

MILWAUKEE -- Carl Edwards Jr.'s day started well. When the reliever boarded the team bus, Cubs manager Joe Maddon complimented him on his rose-printed shirt. After Friday's game, Maddon complimented Edwards on his outing.

The Cubs led by two runs when the rookie entered the game in the sixth inning after starter Jason Hammel had given up a leadoff double to Scooter Gennett, and had to face the No. 3-4-5 hitters for the Brewers, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter. Edwards retired the side, striking out Lucroy and Carter. Chicago held on for a 5-2 victory over Milwaukee.

"That was a big moment in the game," Maddon said of the sixth. "You always talk about that middle-inning closer, and that's a classic example of the impact it can have on the game."

Edwards, 24, has not given up an earned run in 8 1/3 innings on the road, and has struck out 11 in that stretch. Did he realize he was facing the Brewers' "murderer's row," as Maddon called them?

"Not really," Edwards said. "We have the scouting report, but it's like, 'You're facing this person, this person, this person.' I hardly look at the scoreboard."

On Wednesday, the Cubs acquired lefty Mike Montgomery from the Mariners, and they are still considering what to do with veteran Joe Nathan, who has been rehabbing in their Minor League system. They may not need more pieces for the bullpen if Edwards can pitch as well as he did Friday.

"I just feel comfortable," Edwards said.

"Experience, really, is all he needs," Hammel said. "The later in a game you go, the harder it gets. He definitely has the stuff. You can see the improvement and the confidence. Execution for him, too, has gotten better. He's definitely not afraid. He weighs about 140 pounds, but he can attack a ton worth of weight."

It is hard to imagine how Edwards throws 96 mph considering his skinny physique, but he can, and he is doing so effectively.

"[My confidence] is the same as when I got called up -- very mellow, very humble," Edwards said. "I'm not overthinking things now. I'm staying in my lane, and when they call my number, I just go out and do my job."

Last year, he was called up in September, and stayed with the team for the postseason even though he wasn't on the active roster. It was an experience that may pay off this season if the Cubs play deep in October.

"The funny thing is I come in after a clean inning and the guys are constantly motivating me," Edwards said. "They're keeping me humble, too, but I'm keeping myself humble. Today, runner at second, no outs, I was talking to myself on the mound, telling myself, 'Hey, do whatever you've got to do to not let this guy score.' I went out there and got the first out, groundout, and I was telling myself, 'Hey, you're not finished.' And then two outs, I told myself, 'Hey, you're not finished.' Every time I go out there with runners on, [my goal] is to go out there and make sure the runs do not score."

Said Maddon: "He's done everything right. He had a really cool shirt when he walked on the bus today. I told him that, too."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.