It took nearly two years, but perhaps at last, the Cubs have the Jose Quintana they thought they were trading for in the summer of 2017.
Q was dominant for the second consecutive start. He didn’t allow a run and the Marlins got just six hits off him in seven strong innings, which gives him a scoreless streak of 14 innings. The Cubs shut out the Marlins 4-0 for their second straight win. Quintana also didn’t walk anyone and struck out seven. His 29 Ks rank fourth in the National League and there are some pretty big names ahead of him: Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Luis Castillo.
Marlins starter Pablo Lopez made easy work of the Cubs in the first two innings, then David Bote led off the third with a double. Two outs later, Daniel Descalso drove him in [VIDEO].
That was a really nice at-bat. Down 1-2 in the count, Descalso reached out on a pitch that could have retired him and laced it into right field for a single to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs increased that lead to 2-0 in the third. Two singles were followed by Willson Contreras being hit by a pitch to load the bases. Bote grounded out and a run scored.
Meanwhile, Quintana kept mowing down Marlins. One of the outs he recorded was thanks to Albert Almora Jr., who made this brilliant diving catch [VIDEO] on a sinking liner hit by Starlin Castro in the sixth.
At the time, the score was just 2-0 and if Almora doesn’t catch that, it probably goes all the way to the center-field wall for a triple and a run scores.
Javier Baez made it 3-0 Cubs with this long home run [VIDEO] in the eighth.
Fun fact time!
Javier Báez: first #Cubs player with 3 consecutive 3-hit games since Willson Contreras May 9-12 last season.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 17, 2019
Javy was hitting .232/.271/.464 when this little streak began; his slash line now reads .314/.342/.600. Oh, and that home run ball? CRUSHED!
Javier Baez (6) off LHP Adam Conley (2) - 109.3 mph, 24 degrees (439 ft Home Run)— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) April 17, 2019
83.1 mph Slider#Cubs @ #Marlins (T8) pic.twitter.com/CAoxT0cIWD
Joe Maddon allowed Q to start the eighth, as he had finished seven with just 89 pitches, but a leadoff single brought Brandon Kintzler into the game. Kintzler, who has been very good so far this year, did allow a single and a walk — but not until after he erased the single given up by Q with a double-play ball.
Ben Zobrist, batting for Kintzler, completed the Cubs scoring with this sacrifice fly [VIDEO] in the ninth.
Pedro Strop, who hadn’t pitched since last Thursday, entered in what was now a non-save situation to throw the ninth. And he, too, was helped out by Almora’s defense [VIDEO].
Thus the complaint department door is closed and locked tight this morning. Excellent starting pitching, solid relief work, timely hitting: What more could you ask for?
Since starting the season 2-7, the Cubs have won five of their last seven and have outscored their opponents 35-14 in that seven-game stretch, thus averaging five runs per game and allowing just two. They now have a run differential of +12 — best of any team in the N.L. Central — despite the current 7-9 record. Things are now going the way most of us expected them to, I’d say.
The Cubs go for the series sweep Wednesday night in Miami. Cole Hamels gets the start for the Cubs and Sandy Alcantara goes for the Marlins. Game time is again 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage Wednesday will be via NBC Sports Chicago.