The drama of the series and the season was wrapped up with Jose Quintana's calm, complete game shutout. The series had featured three straight games decided in the tenth inning, but the Cubs magic number sits at 2 after the team took care of business at Wrigley North. A classic example of a game that was closer than the score indicates, but it never felt in doubt with Quintana's performance. Ryan Braun had the hardest hit of the day with 2 outs in the first inning. The Brewers could only manage a couple of infield singles and a walk the rest of the way.
It was a pitcher's duel through the early frames. Chase Anderson faced the minimum through the first 3 innings aided by a pair of inning ending double plays. The Cubs got on the board in the fourth inning. Jon Jay hit a solid single to start the inning, and Kris Byrant's double drove in the first run of the game. Anthony Rizzo lined out, but the Cubs looked to break the game open with a Willson Contreras single. Ben Zobrist failed to make contact with a runner at third and less than two outs, and Addison Russell struck out to end the inning with the Cubs clinging to a 1-0 lead.
Chase Anderson settled in to throw another couple 1-2-3 innings, and the game seemed to be a breezy affair compared to recent match ups between the two sides. The only drama in the fifth and sixth innings were when the Brewers had their only runners in scoring position. Each was caused by a two out stolen base, and ended with outs squelching any hope for the Brewers season.
Chase was chased from the game in the seventh inning. Contreras hit a leadoff single and was driven in by a no doubt Ben Zobrist blast. The extra breathing room was more than enough for Quintana. The Cubs added another pair of runs in the eighth inning. Jon Jay picked up his second hit of the afternoon off new Brewers reliever Wei-Chung Wang. Carlos Torres took over for Wang quickly, but the results weren't any better with a Kris Bryant walk. Rizzo drove in the pair with a double to make it the final 5-0 score. Jared Hughes was next out of the Brewers pen, and extinguished the threat as he caught Rizzo trying to take third on first move. It didn't matter as the Cubs cruised to an easy win on the back of Jose Quintana.
Big Boy Start
Jose Quintana pitched like the guy Theo Epstein traded for today. He has been solid recently, but this performance showed that the Baltimore outing was no fluke. No Jose Quintana has been one of the most consistently good starting pitchers the past few years, and has a lot of statistical similarities to the other left handed ace of the staff. The upgrade of Quintana from John Lackey in the postseason is huge. If Jon Lester is right, this is a better pitching staff than the one that won the World Series last year.
Jon Jay's Bat
I don't know how Joe Maddon is going to do it, but I want Jon Jay's bat in the lineup during the postseason run. He has provided the Cubs with professional at bats that you need in the postseason. That means that someone you want to start is going to have to sit. That might be a recently very hot Albert Almora. That could be Jason Heyward's other worldly glove and improving bat. It might be Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Javier Baez or Ben Zobrist. I am not sure where those at bats are coming from, but those long grinding at bats that Jay has had recently are needed against those type flight starting pitchers. The Cubs lineup has lacked contact at times, and Jay provides that. It is going to be a tough puzzle for Maddon to solve, but I think Jay is a piece that needs to be fit in.
Break out the band because the Cubs are very close to go to the playoffs three years in a row.