The Cubs entered Sunday’s series finale in Baltimore looking for their first road sweep of 2017. Thanks to suddenly red hot offense and a new addition on the mound, it turned out to be a piece of crab cake.
Jose Quintana looked very good in his debut in a Chicago uniform. The Colombian lefty retired the first nine batters he faced, striking out five of them.
Former Rockies stud Ubaldo Jimenez was not nearly as successful for Baltimore. Willson Contreras doubled to open the 2nd inning, but he only made it to third on Kyle Schwarber’s follow-up double as he held to see whether it would drop.
Ian Happ made it three straight doubles with a shot to the gap in left-center to score two. Jason Heyward singled to score Happ, and a Ben Zobrist single scored J-Hey to build the Cubs lead to 4-0.
Jon Jay singled to leadoff the 4th inning and advanced to third on a nifty base-running play when Zobrist grounded to first. All that effort proved unnecessary when Kris Bryant pounded a two-run homer deep to left.
A 6-0 lead was more than enough Quintana, who was outstanding on Sunday. Excellent fastball command combined with a nasty curveball left Orioles hitters at a loss.
The Cubs played add-on in the 9th, when Bryant singled and Anthony Rizzo blasted a bomb to right-center. After Quintana left, CJ Edwards and Brian Duensing closed out the 8-0 Chicago victory.
Stats That Matter
- Willson Contreras is on an absolute tear of late. Four more hits today have raised WillCo’s batting average to .278 and his OPS to .823. He also caught Quintana’s terrific start.
- After a prolonged “slump,” Kris Bryant is on the upswing again. He got on four times Sunday: a walk, two singles, and the no-doubt homer.
- Jose Quintana’s line says it all: 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 12 K, and 0 BB. Of course most starts aren’t going to be this good, but even a fraction of that will win a lot of games.
The Cubs swept the Orioles to start the second-half and climb back over the .500 mark. If Chicago wants to get back in the race, now is the time to go on a roll. Will this finally be the time they do?
The Cubs head to the new Sun Trust Park to face the Braves on Monday. Jon Lester, fresh off the shortest start of his career, takes on Julio Teheran. The game is at 6:35 CT and airs on WGN.