The Chicago Cubs featured their most recent acquisition Sunday night when left-hander Jose Quintana took the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Quintana worked 6 innings as the Cubs defeated the Cardinals 5-3. Willson Contreras hit a 2-run homer in the sixth to break a 3-3 tie.
Quintana has won both of his starts since coming over in a July 13 trade with the White Sox. The Cubs (51-46) moved into a virtual tie for first place in the National League Central with the Milwaukee Brewers (53-48). The Cubs hold a percentage point lead, .526 to .525.
“I didn’t realize that, but now that I know, it feels great to keep helping the team,” Contreras said.
When the White Sox come to the North Side on Monday, the Cubs will feature another “acquisition” when right-hander Kyle Hendricks comes off the disabled list after a month and a half.
It seems almost cliché to say that a team is “acquiring” a player when one of its own comes off the DL.
“You understand the cliché component, but it’s actually true, I think, this time,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “To get these two guys coming on board at this time in the season,
“Quintana is at 110 innings, something like that overall, not awful. Kyle’s (innings) numbers are down, which is good going into the latter part of the season. The rest of the guys, I think their numbers are in really good shape moving forward also.”
Quintana gave up a 2-run homer to Randal Grichuk in the second inning.
“It’s a really exciting night for me, a lot of emotions around me,” said Quintana, who gave up 5 hits and 3 runs while walking two and striking out seven. “It’s one I enjoyed a lot. I’m going to try to be focused inning by inning and put my team in good position.”
The Cubs tied it in the third on an RBI double by Jason Heyward and a run-scoring single by Kris Bryant.
Paul DeJong homered in the top of the fourth before Kyle Schwarber retied the score on a massive homer to right against Michael Wacha. It was Schwarber’s 15th of the season. Contreras put the Cubs ahead 5-3 with a 2-run homer to left in the sixth, his 15th.
“I think you’ve got to consider him one of the elite catchers in the National League already,” Maddon said of Contreras.
“It feels great, especially winning this game, starting the second half with this kind of energy,” Contreras said.
The Cubs are 8-1 since the all-star break and a season-high five games over .500.
Run those bases:
Media members were still talking to Joe Maddon about Kris Bryant’s heads-up baserunning play Saturday, when he scored from first base on Anthony Rizzo’s double to shallow left-center field. That play helped the Cubs win 3-2. Maddon said he has been stressing good baserunning since his days in the Angels’ minor-league system.
“I wanted our guys to know back then that good baserunning wins 1-run games,” he said. “Good baserunning wins championships. You don’t have to get the hit. The ball can be hit. Or you can advance on a ball in the dirt. Just do something well with your mind, anticipatory, all that kind of stuff.”