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Cardinals 6, Cubs 2: The Jose Quintana disaster

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How on Earth did THAT happen?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Single.

Foul, ball, ball, ball, called strike, foul, single.

Ball, ball, foul, foul, ball, ball (walk).

Mound visit!

Ball, ball, ball, called strike, ball (walk).

Ball, foul, ball, foul, foul, ball, grand slam.

[NOTE: The mound visit didn’t seem to help.]

Called strike, ball, ball, called strike, ball, foul, foul, called strike. Hooray! One out.

Ball, ball, ball, called strike, called strike, ball (walk).

Ball, ball, foul, swinging strike, ball, RBI double.

Swinging strike, called strike, foul, swinging strike. Two out.

Ground ball to third, inning over.

Those are the 51 pitches Jose Quintana threw in the first inning of the Cubs’ 6-2 loss to the Cardinals, in which they scored all six of their runs. Apart from the one at-bat you see above with two swinging strikes, which was Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas, there was only one swing and miss in the entire inning.

I mean... one of the guys I saw pitch for South Bend Friday night probably could have done that. That was awful. Just awful, and I have no explanation for it. Quintana managed to settle down and throw a total of only 23 more pitches in the next two innings, but it really didn’t matter. At least he managed to throw a couple more innings so that we didn’t have to see Victor Caratini or Ian Happ pitch again. Jesse Chavez entered for three more innings, and much better innings than Q gave the Cubs today: three singles and a walk, no runs allowed, and only 41 pitches thrown. Chavez has been a revelation since he was acquired — a huge help in eating up innings in middle relief.

And of course, this is the game where Quintana collects his first hit of the season, and the first Cubs hit of the afternoon. And even that, he almost didn’t, as Dexter Fowler had been playing very shallow right field and nearly threw Q out at first on the little looper into right. Had that happened, it would have neatly tied this fiasco up with a nice little ribbon, suitable for framing, or throwing in the trash, whichever you prefer.

There are actually a couple of Cubs highlights worth looking at from this game. In the second inning, with Jose Martinez on first and two out, Marcell Ozuna (who had hit the slam in the first) roped a single to right. Jason Heyward showed off his arm [VIDEO].

Len and JD said that might have been the best throw they’ve seen this year, and they might be right, though its impact on the game was minimal. Nice defense by J-Hey.

In the fourth, with Heyward on first base and one out, Javier Baez went deep [VIDEO].

The opposite-field blast was Baez’ 21st of the year and set a career high in RBI for him at 77, for whatever that’s worth.

But other than that and a handful of singles, that was it for the Cubs offense. Steve Cishek and Cory Mazzoni (the latter just recalled via the Iowa Shuttle) threw scoreless innings, so that’s good, I guess. The bullpen threw five shutout innings Saturday afternoon, allowing three hits and a walk, and striking out six.

If only the starting pitching could get back on track.

Sunday night, the Cubs will try to salvage one win from this series. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and John Gant for the Cardinals. It’s ESPN’s featured Sunday Night Baseball game and game time is 7:05 p.m. CT.