by Richard Kagan
The trade for Jose Quintana, formerly of the cross-town rival the Chicago White Sox, is on for real today, when he makes his first start as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Quintana will face off vs. the Baltimore Orioles.
The Cubs have won the first two games of the series and will be going for a series sweep. The Cubs offense has shown signs of coming out of hibernation, with eight homers in two games, and a 16 hit attack last night. Justin Heyward drove in three runs with a bases loaded triple that helped the Cubs take control of the game. Anthony Rizzo hit his 21st HR of the season in the eighth inning. Albert Almora, Jr. hit his second straight homer.
This is a good sign. The Cubs have had a team .239 batting average in the first half of the season. And, if they want to contend for the division, they will need to hit better. The talent is there. It appears that Quintana has been a shot in the arm for the team. The club knows he is a good pitcher–heck he made the All-Star game last season. Quintana is a strong starter who can only help the rotation on the North Side.
Professional baseball at the the Major League level is decided by inches, an errant throw, or a poorly executed pitch. Getting good wood on the bat is what the players strive for and the Cubs have been doing that the last few games. Of course, Baltimore doesn’t have the greatest pitching staff. At least the Cubs are taking advantage so far.
Everyone is jumping the gun a little bit. Ok, the Cubs have two games. They are back to .500 for what seems like the 100th time, actually, it is the 21st time, this season. Can they win three in a row? And, continue the strong road trip in Atlanta? If this team can win 5 of 6 games on the road, that is a good sign that things might be turning around for the Cubbies. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. First, Quintana has to pitch a good game, go deep in the game, and give a chance for Cub batters to continue to connect.
Things might be changing for the Northsiders, but it is a bit too soon to tell.