Jose Quintana's debut was everything that could be hoped for and more. Q showed why the Cubs parted with the number 5 prospect in baseball and then some for 3 and a half years of this. Quintana baffled the Orioles bats all day. The Cubs lefty, that feels so good to write, didn't allow a base runner until Adam Jones hit a ground rule double to start the fourth inning. Beef Castle's two out fifth inning single was the only other base runner Q surrendered on the day. Quintana would pitch 7 strong innings. Carl Edwards and Brian Duensing pitched a scoreless inning each to complete the Cubs fourth shutout of the season.
The Cubs offense struck in the second inning against Ubaldo Jimenez. Willson Contreras ripped a leadoff double, and Kyle Schwarber followed that up with his own double. Contreras had to hold up to make sure the ball dropped and was then unable to score on the play. It didn't matter as Ian Happ laced the third consecutive double to plate the pair. Jason Heyward singled to drive in Happ. Heyward stole second and ended up on third on Jon Jay's groundout. Ben Zobrist delivered a two out single to give the Cubs a comfortable 4 run lead. Jose Quintana must have really felt strange going out in the second inning with a lead.
The Cubs added pairs of runs in the fourth inning and the ninth inning. The fourth inning started against Jimenez with a Jay single. Kris Bryant blasted a two run shot to extend the Cubs lead to 6-0. The game was comfortably in hand when Anthony Rizzo hit a two run bomb to make it 8-0. The Cubs completed the sweep easily, and they gave us that winning streak I mentioned a couple of days ago. The Phillies did their job in taking one, and the Cubs are again with 5 games of their second division crown in as many years.
If there was any doubt about how good Jose Quintana really is? Today we saw the guy that has been toiling for a mostly bad franchise for a long time. Quintana struggled early in the seson, but had really turned around in the month of June. Today's outing continued a really strong run going back 11 games now. This also marked the third straight game that the Cubs starters didn't allow a run in the first inning. If this really is a turning point than it is going to start with the starting pitchers.
I'm Not Saying But I'm Just Saying
The Cubs offense had a really good weekend in Baltimore. That is a bit of an understatement as the Cubs scored 27 runs in 3 games. The Baltimore pitching staff is what many noted baseball experts call very bad as well. So you don't want to read too much into any of this, but a number of Cubs hitters have been hot recently. Willson Contreras and Addison Russell might have gotten the most headlines this weekend given their performances, but I want to highlight the Cubs most expensive player. Jason Heyward had 2 hits in each of his games in Baltimore. Today it was just 2 singles, but that brought his season wRC+ to 94. That is still a below average hitter, but the trend has been very positive. Prior to today, Heyward had a .304/.385/.565 slash line in the 7 games since returning from the disabled list. It is a terribly small sample size of course, but if you allow me to play the arbitrary end points game I will go back to June 6th. Heyward has a .284/.342/.463 slash line. A player that does all the things Jason Heyward does at an elite level that has that slash line is a pretty damn valuable player. He just needs to actually hit at that level for more than just my arbitrary end points.
The Cubs are going to be the team we expected startingggg now pic.twitter.com/Kmd56VCni0
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) June 17, 2017
Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Kris Bryant (3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI)
I think that Bryant mini-slump is over now.
Second Star-Willson Contreras (4-5, 1 R)
Contreras is so hot right now.
First Star-Jose Quintana (7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 12 K)
12 strike outs to 0 walks.