Quintana Has Arrived!
I know that I should begin this with the caveats that the Orioles aren’t very good and their starting pitching, in particular, is quite bad. But I’m not in the mood for any of that glass is half-empty bull$&!#. The Cubs rocked it in Baltimore this weekend, and today’s game was especially fun to watch. So I’m all about focusing on the positive in this column.
This was, of course, Jose Quintana’s first start for the Cubs. And what a beauty it was. If Jose was nervous or feeling pressure to perform for his new team he didn’t show it. His first inning pitched as a Cub went 1-2-3, and took him all of 11 pitches to do it. He struck out Adam Jones on a slider in the dirt and, incidentally, Willson Contreras threw it down to first at maybe 60% velocity which I found very encouraging from a development point of view. Quintana then got Manny Machado to pop out to right and Johnathan Schoop to ground out to Addison Russell. Bada boom, bada bing!
As great as the first two wins in this series were, I was troubled that so much of the Cubs’ scoring had come via the home run. That’s why it really warmed my heart when the Cubs offense put together a lovely, home run free rally in the top of the second. Contreras lined a double into the left centerfield gap. Then Kyle Schwarber did the same. Not wanting to be left out, Ian Happ hit almost the exact same spot on the wall as the previous two and brought them home to start off the scoring. Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist followed up the doublefest with singles and just like that Quintana had a four run lead.
The bottom of the fourth saw what I thought was the coolest part of the game. Adam Jones roped Quintana’s first pitch of the inning into the left field corner for a ground rule double, and all of the sudden after three uneventful innings it looked like the O’s might be getting something going. The O’s broadcast team flashed up a graphic that showed Quintana’s opponents have hit .342 against him with runners in scoring position this year. But even with a 6 run lead Quintana was having none of that. He got Machado to ground out, which did move Jones to third. But then he struck out Schoop and Mark Trumbo to end the threat, such as it was.
I just have to say, Quintana looked pretty badass out there. He had a look on his face that to me read, “not today mother%&#@ers!” He made me think of the Green Day song Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, in which the first line is, “I’m not f^@#ing around!” He just looked like he wasn’t going to give up anything no matter how big a lead the Cubs had.
In all Quintana threw 7 innings, giving up three hits while striking out 12. He then handed it over to Carl Edwards, Jr. who worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Brian Duensing then tossed a pleasantly uneventful ninth to seal the deal.
As the Cubs were knocking the ball around in the top of the ninth, the Orioles’ announcers commented on how the energy level of the Cubs had been noticeably higher than the O’s throughout the whole series. And that got me wondering: Has the acquisition of Quintana given the Cubs a much needed jolt of energy and woken them out of the season long malaise they have been zombie-walking through? Time will tell, but I like what I saw in Baltimore this weekend.
On to Atlanta!