What You Need to Know
Jose Quintana and the Cubs ran into some tough luck against one of the most snake-bit teams in either league. The offense created several opportunities, but the big hit never came. There would be no thrilling ninth inning comeback against this iteration of the Giants bullpen. Not with super closer
Mark Melancon Sam Dyson.
This was a game the Cubs not only could have won, but should have won. The Giants are in the middle of their worst season since moving to San Francisco, and their starter, Ty Blach, came into the game with the lowest K% in the majors. I could list all of the things that have gone wrong for San Francisco, but it can all be summarized by saying that the Giants are playing Pablo Sandoval on purpose. That’s how far they’ve fallen. Almost nothing has gone right, but they caught a few breaks tonight, and the Cubs couldn’t catch any.
After coming off his worst start as a Cub, Jose Quintana struggled early again. He was a touch unlucky as the ordinarily excellent Baez wasn’t able to make two tough plays to his right, allowing two runners to reach ahead of Buster Posey. After an 0 for 4 last night, Posey hit the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer. It wasn’t as if Posey decimated it. The homer only had 28% hit probability, and there was some controversy over whether a fan interfered with it.
Meanwhile, the offense struggled to get anything going against Ty Blach in the early innings. Their first opportunity came in the fourth inning. Rizzo singled up the middle and Contreras nearly lined one over Posey’s head. Pence was playing off the line, so if it got past Posey, it likely would have been a triple. Instead, Posey caught it and Rizzo nearly got doubled off. Happ kept the inning alive with a bloop that fell between Parker and Crawford, but Almora flied out on a changeup to end the inning.
Blach hurt the Cubs with the bat as well. Crawford and Parker both singled to set up runners at first and second with one out. Quintana only had to get through Kelby Tomlinson and Ty Blach, which should have been an easy task. Without looking it up, I’m going to say Tomlinson has an OBP higher than his SLG.* Quintana got Tomlinson to fly out, but Blach dumped a single to right to plate Crawford, making it 4-0. Heyward made a nice throw and nearly threw Crawford out at the plate, but Crawford just got under the tag.
The Cubs finally broke through in the fifth when Heyward and Baez both singled to open the inning. Quintana bunted them over, and the Cubs looked poised for a big inning. Jay knocked in a run with a ground out, and according to WPA, it wasn’t actually better than nothing. Trading an out for a run in that situation was worth -.020 WPA. Things were then left up to Bryant, who flew out to right.
In the sixth, Contreras and Happ both doubled to chip away another run off Blach, but that was all they got. Almora hit the ball hard but right at Tomlinson, and Heyward grounded out to end the inning. Blach definitely didn’t look as sharp as he did the first time through the order. He struggled to get the ball over the plate, but the Cubs couldn’t do any real damage against him.
Ultimately, Quintana pitched well tonight, and the blame shouldn’t rest on him. He got stung by a couple lousy pitches. He was mostly a victim of sequencing and dinks and doinks. On another night, maybe he only gives up only one run, if that.
*I was right. .333 OBP, .307 SLG.
Top WPA Play
It was good to see Ian Happ have a nice night at the plate. He went 2 for 3 with an RBI double tonight, and that double was the bright spot of the evening. (+.090)
Bottom WPA Play
This one’s obvious. Posey’s three-run homer. (-.195)
Lead photo courtesy Ed Szczepanski—USA Today Sports