Monday, 17 July:
The Chicago Cubs unveiled their newest asset and had their best game of the season.
Jose Quintana tossed 7 innings of almost flawless baseball; 100 pitches of which 67 were strikes, scattering 3 hits, striking out 12 while walking nobody. He showed late life on a consistent 94 mph fastball, and excellent arm action on a plus straight change.
It was the best game of the year by the Cubs, and perhaps the first time they were world class again. The woeful Baltimore Orioles allowed the Cubs comfort after the failed comeback of the first game. Their starting pitching, which is horrid, allowed 27 runs in 27 innings for an ERA of 9.00 for the series.
But that doesn’t tell all the story. On Sunday, in front of a smallish crowd reported at 31,105 but much less showed, the Cubs could have beaten ANY other team in baseball.
That includes Los Angeles, Houston, you name it. The acquisition of not only a solid starting pitcher but a left handed power pitcher in the apex of his career gave the team a real shot in the arm. It was the single game of this season that actually resembled one of last season’s highlights.
Oriole starter, and loser Ubaldo Jimenez, kept up the string of godawful starts from their beleaguered rotation. Recently unable to locate the riding fastball that had elevated him to elite status back with Colorado, he nibbled instead of challenging.
Whenever you pitch afraid of contact you get hit, and usually hard, too. In only 3 2/3 innings he gave up 11 hits and 6 runs. Meanwhile, Quintana, a study in bulldog determination, just took their lineup apart.
His sole mistake -a fastball up to Adam Jones- was spanked into left for a double. Other than that, nothing was hit hard all day. The former White Sox hurler was quite obviously just gassed to be a Cub.
No swipe at the South Siders, but he went from a talent known by fans of the game to a nascent world wide legend to be. He had plenty of adrenaline as a result, and just a little more hop on the fastball.
He displayed better stuff than any other Cub pitcher this season.
The Cub offensive explosion was due at least as much to the fat pitches they saw as to any adjustments or improvements by the hitters. They still swing from the heels, and are way too dependent on the one dimension of power.
They still lack balance and need to break up the string of right handers in the lineup. But yesterday showed that if given good enough pitching, they have enough talent to make it back to the postseason.
They needed the four day break, and getting a weak opponent afterwards was a blessing from the baseball gods. They are now more or less ready for the stretch run, as they go to Atlanta for 3 and then to the South Side for a pair and then on to Milwaukee.
It’s a tough week and a half, without a day off until Monday the 31st.
Theo and Jed are still working the phones. Although Ken Rosenthal of FOX sports says the deal with Oakland for Sonny Gray is probably dead that might be a tad premature. Supposedly they want a player off the major league roster -and he has a last name of ‘Happ’- but that is a wish, not a real deal, for the A’s.
Ian Happ is going nowhere. You just don’t trade a versatile switch hitter with plus power and speed.
The A’s would be quite happy with Jeimer Candelario and Victor Carantini, though. And if Theo thinks that the addition of Gray would push the team over the top he’ll make that deal in a New York second…
Jon Lester will take on Julio Teheran, the Braves are .500 and no pushovers, 6:35 start, WGN, 670 The Score