The Rundown: Quintana Dominant, Montgomery Nearing Return, Happ Improving Approach, Scott Sanderson Passes Away

“Quintana was on tonight.” – Professor Obvious

Thanks to an outstanding effort by José Quintana, the Cubs won their first series of the young season and seem to have found their sea legs after navigating the turbulent waters of the season-opening nine-game road trip. In case you were wondering if Quintana will be one of last night’s top stars, no need to scroll down. He was definitely the best player in baseball yesterday.

The left-hander was god-like among ordinary mortals for seven innings last night as the Cubs blanked the Pirates 2-0. Of his 99 pitches, 64 were strikes. That’s incredible command.

That’s as good as we’ve seen him,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “That was dominant. Strikeouts, strike throwing. Everything was working. He was outstanding, and we needed that.”

Maddon wasn’t kidding. Cubs starters came into last night’s game saddled with a 6.52 ERA and 1.86 WHIP. Steve Cishek pitched the 8th and Pedro Strop got three outs without threat to earn his first save of the year.

The Cubs scored both runs in the 7th inning thanks to RBI doubles by Daniel Descalso and Victor Caratini. The team will attempt  to win two in a row for the first time this afternoon when they host the Angels.

Sad News for the Cubs Family

Scott Sanderson, a 1974 Glenbrook North graduate who helped the Cubs win two division championships during a 19-year career, passed away yesterday at the age of 62. A cause of death was not immediately known, but he had suffered from multiple health issues.

Sanderson was 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 1984, helping the Cubs win the National League East while breaking a 38-year playoff drought. In 1989, the right-hander was 11-9, helping the Cubs to their second division title of the decade.

Sanderson led Glenbrook North to the IHSA baseball state championship in 1974 and worked as a player agent after retiring, representing players Josh Beckett, Todd Helton, and Josh Hamilton, among others.

Cubs News & Notes

  • The Cubs are bracing themselves for the loss of Caratini for 6-8 weeks because of a potential hamate bone fracture in his left hand. The backup catcher is 8-for-14 (.571) this season and hurt his hand on a swing prior to lining an RBI double in the yth inning.
  • Unless the Cubs make a trade or sign a free agent, Taylor Davis, who is on the 40-man roster, is a likely replacement for Caratini. Davis has played 13 games with the Cubs over the previous two seasons, batting .278, and is probably looking at you right now.
  • Because of severe storms predicted to move into the area late last night, the Cubs pushed up the start of the game by 30 minutes. The game was delayed after the 7th inning due to lightning.
  • Maddon was ejected in the bottom of the 5th by plate umpire Mike Estabrook for arguing balls and strikes. The ejection was Maddon’s first of the season and the 50th of his managerial career.
  • The Cubs held the Pirates scoreless in two of the three games of the series.
  • Javier Báez did not run out a double play ball in the bottom of the 6th, and though he had a decent argument, he still should have hightailed it to first base.
  • Mike Montgomery threw 26 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday and will throw at least one more before the Cubs set a return date for him, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Jason Heyward is generating his highest exit velocity since 2015. The right fielder is batting .351 on the season and is slugging .676.
  • Kyle Schwarber is really struggling with off-speed pitches.

How About That!

Khris Davis is very, very good at baseball. At least the power-hitting part of the sport. Khrush could also become just the fifth player in league history since 1908 to hit multiple home runs in three straight games if he hits another two (or more) long balls on Friday.

After going 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI in a win over the Braves on Thursday, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is now hitting .378/.451/.911 with six homers and 17 RBI. He launched a bomb to center field last night that traveled an estimated 454 feet.

First baseman Mitch Moreland has been all kinds of clutch for the struggling Red Sox. He carried the team to a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays last night, just their third win of the season. Moreland tied the game at six with a towering home run in the seventh, before winning it with a walk-off RBI double.

Break up the Mariners! Seattle is now 13-2 thanks to a 10th-inning home run by your boy, Daniel Vogelbach. It was the man-child’s sixth tater of the year. Seattle has hit at least one home run in every game this season, a new MLB record.

Whit Merrifield’s hitting streak ended at 31 games in the Royal’s loss to Seattle. He was 0-for-6 and struck out swinging to end the ballgame.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is still hitless on the season. He is “trusting the process.”

Ozzie Albies is the latest young player to sign a contract extension, and it is clearly a huge bargain for the Braves’ front office. Albies will receive $35 million over the next seven years and will be a free agent when he reaches his age-30 season. A pair of team options could make it a nine-year, $45 million deal.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Jose Quintana – The right-hander had his most effective start as a member of the Cubs, scattering four hits and giving up just one walk while striking out 11 Pirates’ batters. Quintana earned his first win of the season.
  2. Khris Davis – The slugging outfielder had a two-homer night for the second consecutive game. As of right now, Davis (9) has more home runs than the Pirates (8), Rockies (8), Giants (8) & Tigers (5) and as many as the Indians & Blue Jays (source Christopher Kamka).
  3. Jeff Samardzija – The ex-Cub starter carried the Giants to a 1-0 win over the Rockies, going seven innings with seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits.

Not a Star: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is slugging just .340 and has yet to hit his first home run.

On Deck

I have some medical things going on so I will not be writing a column on Monday or Tuesday. I will be at my keyboard on Saturday, however. I’m sure Evan will have something better than decent in my stead while I am recovering, and I will be back in the captain’s chair on Wednesday morning.

Do we get paid time off around here? Asking for a friend.

Extra Innings

Ian Happ thinks his swing is good but it is his approach that needs work.

They Said It

“What today’s players owe to Scott is both incalculable and largely unknown to them. It was Scott, more than any other player, whose message to his contemporaries both captured what was at stake in the great strike of 1994 and alerted them to their responsibility: ‘Who among us wants to leave to the players who come after him less than what he received from the players who have come before him?’ Those of us who worked closely with Scott will never forget him. The players he leaves behind never can.” – Former MLBPA COO Gene Orza.

“The first swing I felt a crack, but I felt hot so I kept going. Once I got to second base and I took my glove off, I could tell there was something wrong.” – Victor Caratini

“I think mechanically, my swing’s really good — both sides of the plate. But definitely, left-handed is really good mechanically. It’s a little bit different when the strikeout rate’s in a place where it is and you have to make those adjustments without thinking about strikeouts… It’s just understanding that if you trust yourself more, if you’re more in-tune with some of the stuff situationally, that those numbers are outrageously inflated.” – Ian Happ

Friday Walk Up Song

Road to Nowhere by The Talking Heads. I always think of this song as I am being put into my pre-surgery anesthetized sleep. I think it was a top-10 surgery the first time I ever went under the knife, so go figure.

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