Quintana Delivers The Goods in Cubs Debut

Chicago Cubs

In the Chicago Cubs quest to reclaim the National League Central title, they went out and made a splash for Jose Quintana. Well, he didn’t disappoint in his Cubs debut with an 8-0 series sweep over the Baltimore Orioles.

Sometimes a change does a player good and in this case, Quintana struck out 12 and in a way, recharged the Cubs. Leave it to Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to send the balls into orbit, each contributing two run homers to pad the lead over the Orioles.

“He could really be a big boon to us,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We grab a lead, and he pitched really well with the lead. There’s no messing around, there’s no walks, there’s no bad counts. He made them put the ball in play, and he’s punching guys out. He was burying the curve and elevating the fastball. He was doing everything well.”

On the offence, the Cubs have finally been putting up big numbers. They’ve put up 24 runs in the last three games with two shutouts. With an easier second half to the season, are we more likely to see these big numbers continue? It’s no time to roll out the parade because even though the Cubs stymied the always dangerous Orioles, they have too much ground to make up on their quest too reclaim the throne.

“It’s not just me, but I think everyone needed it, the rest was needed,” Willson Contreras said. “Everybody looks focused, everybody looks like they have a plan and an approach. We’re not wasting time, we’re attacking pitches.”

If this is a sign of things to come in the second half, then the Cubs are in a prime position.    Their one game over .500 may be temporary especially if they don’t get the pitching back from their rotation but the Cubs showed some brilliance in their series with the Orioles.

“I feel happy when I get run support,” Quintana said. “Every time, it’s good for us, good for a starting pitcher. Mentally today, the last game [of the series], it was good to sweep the series and just keep going. We have to keep going and stay hot.”

That was the problem during the first half, either the pitcher dominated or there was runs but hardly ever did the two meet in each game. We witnessed in the last series, the melding of the two and suddenly, the Cubs are looking more like last year’s winners.

“He was really good,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I really liked his routine on the mound. Did you notice the big breath and then the delivery begins after that? Tremendous focus per pitch. That’s what I took away from it. And then he’s able to execute. He had a really good curveball, was not overusing it, using it at the right time. More than anything, I liked the method. Deep breath, then he goes into his delivery. He has a nice method.”

Believe it

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The Kids Are All Right For The Cubs

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Javier Baez getting Home Runs has become old news, I’m afraid to admit. Yesterday, the Wonder Kid registered his first back to back home run game of his career after a long rain delay again. The Cubs went on to defeat the Orioles, 7-2.  Even though Kyle Hendricks, geez, that name sounds like a Nascar Driver didn’t get his quality start. at least the Cubs won and that, as we know, is the most important thing.

“They’re a good, solid aggressive bunch and they’re trying to establish themselves in their organization,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Their intensity level is always going to be good. They’ve got a lot of things to establish and prove, as we do.”

The fun doesn’t end there, because Logan Watkins has been joining in the fun since he’s been on the team gathering two hits and two RBI’s.

Even the grounds crew had an ovation. They’ve been working hard and have become the extra men on the team.

The Cubs have all but flat lined in their chances in making the post season, but consider if Javier Baez had played since the season opened. Would their chances have improved? It’s hard to say, but since the call up August 5th, the Cubs are 12-9 and the Wonder Kid has given fans a souvenir seven times. The numbers say it all.

Now, it may have been nice if Baez had played the season, but I think it was the wiser choice waiting. He still swings a lot more than he hits and the off season will be kind to him.

You know, if the numbers don’t lie, then the Cubs still can finish .500 on the season.

Believe it.

—Mark

 

Cubs Take First Game Against Soaring Orioles

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If Javier Baez decided that baseball wasn’t his thing and he switched careers to take up boxing, we all know he’d go down swinging, but man, he’d have a killer knockout punch. Yesterday, the Cubs clobbered the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 with Baez and Luis Valbuena hitting the ball hard and long. The Orioles are playoff bound so the win was all that more sweet. I was kind of hoping the Cubs would do the Toronto Blue Jays a favour but the Jays lost 8-0, and that’s a whole different train wreck all together.

Maybe the Cubs win was a result of Jake Arrieta out to prove his old Orioles something, or the Cubs are starting to be that good.

“There was a little more to it, being your former team,” Arrieta said. “After the first inning, it was just business as usual. It was nice to face those guys. It’s good to see a lot of them again — it’s been a while.”

Forget golf being a Gentlemen’s game, baseball is all class. If that was Arrieta’s way of being nice to former teammates, I’d hate to see him mean.

Then there was Baez’s out of the park rocket. if he can cool his swinging, there’d be more of those launching over the heads.

“You want to see every one of that kid’s at-bats,” Arrieta said of Baez. “It’s starting to get to the point, even though it’s so early in his career, that nothing surprises me with what he does at the plate. Everyone knows when he connects with that swing, he’ll hit it a long way. I don’t know if many of his home runs will touch the seats here, honestly.”

This is an important series for the Cubs. They have nothing to gain in the standings, but beating a first place club like the Orioles isn’t just a confidence booster, but more of an accomplishment and like that Gentlemen’s game, they’re playing against themselves. The season’s still got plenty of games left and let me tell you, I’m excited for the post season, but I’m all ready dreaming of next year.

My wife Mary Beth asked me recently, “Are the Cubs all you think about?”

“They day we were married, I won the World Series.”

Believe it,

—Mark

Cubs Fall Off Slippery Slope

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In probably one of the oddest games in memory, the Cubs held on to win Wednesday’s game on Thursday. What? you might be wondering. Long story short for those who are just tuning in, the Cubs game on Wednesday was rained out, the Cubs were awarded the victory but the San Francisco Giants appealed and rightfully so, because it ended early. So, they played the rest of the game yesterday before their regularly scheduled ball game. The Cubs won the shortened game 2-1

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that we wanted to close it out, especially since everybody tried to do everything possible to get it in,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

We wouldn’t want you to lie, Rick.

Now, for the encore. The Cubs lost the second game by a score of 5-3. I have to say I like Justin Ruggiano. Even though he and Welington Castillo garnered home runs each, they still provide some much needed relief for Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez. Like I said, this season is an audition for next year.

“Every ball they seemed to hit just seemed to go right down the line,” Travis Wood said. “They had a lot of doubles, and doubles score runs.”

Ah, so that’s the secret to success. Doubles Score Runs. So, what about those RISP’s ?

“Stranded RISP’s will never score runs.” Canuck Cubbie said.

Today’ll be a tough game against the Orioles. The Cubs need to win it for the Blue Jays. Yes, the Canuck Cubbie has a soft spot for the Blue Birds. Obvious reasons of course. Plus, Jake Arrieta has something to prove to the Orange Birds.

I’m excited for this one.

Believe it.

—Mark 

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Feldmania No More & The Cubs Get An Athletic Workout

Alfonso Soriano blasts a three Run Homer.

Alfonso Soriano blasts a three Run Homer.

Yesterday was a busy day for the Cubs. Beloved starting pitcher Scott Feldman, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta.

When I first heard the news I was stunned. I thought it would have been Matt Garza being traded but he could still go before the deadline of July 31.

“I don’t think this team improves by trading Scott Feldman,” Jeff Samardzija said. “He was one of our better pitchers. He’s thrown a lot of innings, a solid dude, a solid guy in the clubhouse.

It’s too early to tell but in some ways I agree with Jeff because I didn’t see this one happening at all. However, I do trust Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s decision. They get paid to study the game and I’ll bet a Toonie to a Loonie that they’ve got a trick up their sleeve.

“It’s never easy to give up a guy who has performed well for you, but to have two power arms is important.” Jed Hoyer said.

The Cubs didn’t stop there. Carlos Marmol went to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Matt Gurrier and some draft picks.

This deal was a little less surprising. Marmol was overstaying his welcome in Chicago and for some strange reason, he wasn’t throwing them like he used to a couple of years ago. It’s too bad because I thought he has a lot of talent, but I’m glad he gets a chance for a fresh start in Los Angeles. They’re a team that is still very much in it and acquiring Marmol could be the key that will turn it over for the Dodgers. Break a leg Carlos!

“The decision [to designate him] really came down to it that he had become a distraction. It became hard to pitch as well as he could, because every time he threw two balls, he’d get booed, and I don’t think that’s easy for anybody.” Hoyer said.

So, with the new acquisitions, does it make the Cubs a better team? We’ll have to wait and see, but I can tell you that this season has been really exciting to watch and every change that happens is good at this point.

Now, onto Oakland—

It was a valiant effort by the Chicago Cubs as they lost their first visit to Oakland, 8-7. Chris Rusin was called up in place of Scott Feldman but was replaced in the bottom of the fourth by Carlos “The Villan” Villanueva.

After the Cubs led 7-5, it was a home run off of James Russell by Derek Norris that sealed the win for the Athletics. The Cubs lost the momentum after that.

“You go to sleep and start a new day,” Russell said. “That’s the thing about baseball. You get your butt kicked one night and you get to wake up and do the same thing all over again.”

I wouldn’t call yesterday’s game a butt kicking because the Cubs went toe to toe against the Athletics proving that there is something special percolating within this young Cubs organization.

“It’s almost comical to see this happen every single night,” Dale Sveum said. “We have the lead and get beat by guys who sometimes hardly even hit home runs. Norris had one at-bat off a left-hander in 15 days and beats us with a three-run homer.”

Alfonso Soriano had another huge game for the Cubs hitting a three run home run in the fourth inning. Way to go Fonzi!

Matt Garza gets the start today as the Cubs are looking for redemption against the Athletics. Game time is 10:05pm eastern.

—Mark