It’s safe to say Jose Quintana‘s last start was not his best performance. In just three innings of work, the left-hander yielded six earned runs, including a grand slam while also walking three batters
Quintana’s rocky outing on July 28 only continued the trend of under-performance by the Cubs’ starting pitching. Entering play on Friday, Chicago’s rotation had worked the ninth least innings in major league baseball at 578.1. That, in turn, has caused the Cubs’ bullpen to work the eighth most innings in the game, logging 403.1 frames.
With a tiring bullpen made even more so after Mike Montgomery‘s 5.1 innings in a 6-1 loss on Thursday night, the Cubs desperately needed a solid outing from Quintana on Friday afternoon. Luckily, that is exactly what they got as the southpaw was on point from the first pitch of the game.
The Cubs were able to ride Quintana’s solid outing on Friday to a 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres.
In his last outing, Quintana needed 51 pitches to make it through the first inning. Friday evening, however, the left-hander used only 13 pitches to record the first three outs of game. Quintana did not stop there, dotting up the outside edge of the strike zone with his fastball while working off that with heaters on the inner half of the plate.
Despite allowing a lead-off single to begin the second inning, Quintana induced a weak line-drive to second base before getting two more ground outs to end the frame.
Even with his solid effort through two innings, Quintana had yet to record a strikeout, before sitting two Padres’ hitters down via the strikeout in the top of the third.
Quintana only paid for one mistake on Friday. That came in the fourth inning when Christian Villanueva pulled a get-me-over, first pitch curveball into the left field basket, giving the Padres their first run of the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cubs provided just enough support for the win. Padres’ starter Tyson Ross looked solid through the first inning, sitting Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward down in order. In the second, however, it did not take long for the Cubs to get to the first run of the game. Entering play, Javier Baez had already firmly planted himself in the conversation for National League MVP. After his 23rd home run and 84th RBI in the second inning, that position only continued to increase.
Baez has, in fact, performed so well at the plate that in the fifth inning the youngster was intentionally walked with two runners on to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Cubs would not be able to cash-in on that opportunity as Ian Happ struck out looking to end the threat.
Thankfully, the Cubs would not need much offense on Friday as the pitching staff kept the Padres’ offense under wraps.
With the Cubs ahead 1-0 in the third inning, they used a one-out walk and single to put runners on the corners for Zobrist. The veteran was able to push the Cubs’ lead to 2-0 with a sac-fly to center field, once again moving the ball with men in scoring position, a reoccurring problem for Chicago’s offense at times this season.
Now a one-run game after Villanueva’s aforementioned solo home run in the fourth, the Cubs responded with a run of their own in the fifth. Ahead of Happ’s inning-ending strikeout, Zobrist grounded into a fielder’s choice to first base as Tommy La Stella slid just in front of the throw at the plate, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead entering the latter innings of play.
Two innings later, Rizzo inched closer to the top-ten on the Cubs’ All-Time home run list with his 16th of the season, mashing it into the right field basket and making the lead 4-1. With that long ball, Rizzo moved into a tie for 11th on the Cubs’ All-Time list with Alfonso Soriano.
After the Padres drew within two runs in the top half of the eighth, the Cubs responded with an insurance run in their half of the inning. A triple off the right field wall by Baez preceded a sac-fly by Happ, giving the Cubs a 5-2 advantage. That triple gives Baez seven on the season after the youngster entered 2018 with three career three-base hits.
That insurance run loomed large in the top half of the ninth inning as the Padres rallied for two. With one out in the inning, David Bote cut down the potential game-tying run with a strike of a throw following a ground ball in his direction. After that play, Pedro Strop recorded the final out via strikeout to preserve the Cubs’ win.
At 94 pitches through six innings, Joe Maddon pulled Quintana after an outstanding performance. The left-hander’s final line looked like this: six innings, four hits, one earned run, zero walks and six strikeouts.
Friday marked the first time this season in which Quintana has allowed zero walks in a start. In fact, the left-hander had walked at least two batters in every outing since his start on April 28 when he lasted seven innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.
With the win, the Cubs improve to 63-46 while the Padres drop to 43-69 on the season.
Next Up For The Cubs
The Cubs will continue their four-game set with the Padres on Saturday, August 4 at 1:20 p.m. at Wrigley Field. Taking the ball for the Cubs will be Kyle Hendricks (7-9, 3.97 ERA). On July 29, his last start, Hendricks had perhaps his best outing of the season. In a 5-2 Cubs’ win, the right-hander tossed seven innings, allowing just four hits and two earned runs while at the same time striking out eight and failing to walk a batter. That solid start once again dipped Hendricks’ season ERA south of four and capped off his outstanding month of July (3.34 ERA in 35 innings).
Opposing Hendricks on the mound will be Joey Lucchesi (5-6, 3.74 ERA). Lucchesi, a left-hander, made four starts in the month of July, posting a 5.21 ERA over 19 innings. In his last start, the southpaw yielded five earned runs on six hits, three of which were home runs, over 4.1 innings in a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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