The Cubs have made a trademark by having a strong second half, and after beating the Pirates 8-3 on Sunday, they completed the sweep in their first series since the recess of the stars and are heading to put more space in the League National. Central between them and the other four teams.
But throughout the first three innings, the Cubs and starting pitcher Jose Quintana looked more like they were going to let the third game in this series escape.
Quintana kept the Piratas scoreless in the first two innings, but in the third he abandoned three singles in a row, threw an uncontrolled pitch, allowed a sacrifice fly and gave up a double, undoing the 1-0 lead that the Cubs had established. in The second entry on the double of Robel García.
But the difference in Sunday's game was how Quintana launched after that. He threw three innings without any further annotations, completing a quality start of 90 pitches and even contributing a single producer in the fourth.
"He always comes out and competes, he's very focused," Kris Bryant said of Quintana after the game. "He does not get enough credit for what he does."
Before Quintana's single, Garcia hit a two-out double and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle opted to accompany David Bote to take Quintana to the plate for what seemed like a safe exit. Instead, Quintana pushed Trevor Williams' four-seam fastball to right field, which allowed Garcia to score from the second and cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3-2.
Quintana had already thrown a top without notes of the fourth inning, but gave two more after his RBI single. The blow was an opportune impulse of confidence.
"I felt very good, finally to get the base blow," Quintana said. "Very excited."
This was Quintana's fifth run and the first since 2017, and may have helped catapult the rest of the offense. The Cubs would score three more runs in the fifth inning to take the lead, and then added some cushioning with three more in the sixth.
"Literally, when Q got that hit, Tony says' home run ',' Jason Heyward joked after the game.
It was not Quintana who got the homer, but Heyward was the one who gave the Cubs the advantage with their own two-run homer in the fifth, after Victor Caratini's sacrifice fly scored Bryant to tie the game before that. entry.
"We had fun with that," Heyward said of Rizzo's joke. "But we're obviously looking for them because they're throwing the whole game, they want to keep the game close and sometimes they also need to recover."
Quintana's last three innings on the mound kept his team in the game. He started the fourth with a walk to Elias Díaz and then did not allow another base race until Corey Dickerson's single in the sixth.
"I kept throwing my pitches and believing in my things and waiting for our offense to return to the game, and they did very well," Quintana said. "I always had in mind that they could run more races, so I wanted to keep him there and wait for our hitters to come back in. They did a great job, it's a very good feeling around us right now."
One of the keys to a strong second half for the Cubs is to win more victories like Sunday's. Bryant said after the game that it is important to get some wins that you should not, like one when the team is down 3-1 midway through the game. And especially in the last game of a three-game set where the Cubs had already won the first two. With the sure victory of the series, it would be easy to abandon and abandon the final game, but the good blow of Quintana and the good launch in the second half of his departure helped to make a difference.
"As soon as he hit, he threw very well after that," said Joe Maddon. "It got better after the blow."
Quintana could have difficulty meeting the expectations of arriving from the other side of the city in an exchange two years ago that cost two possibilities, but it is worth noting that the average ERA in the National League is 4.39, and then the Sunday's victory, that of Quintana is reduced to 4.21. If you are the opener of the rotation of the rotation of the team, that will work well.
He is very capable of joining quality starts and pitches as the ace of the team, as he has done in his last three starts with three consecutive quality starts, but there are also stretches like his career from May 26 to June 22, where he lost six starts in a race. Fila and its effectiveness rose from 3.73 to 4.50.
In any case, if Quintana makes more of his starts as on Sunday, the Cubs are in a very good position to continue their annual trend of winning in the second half of the season.