NOT ALL HAPPY RETURNS
Quintana looks all right, Chatwood not so much as Cubs fall in Detroit
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Jose Quintana in his return to a major-league mound for the first time since spring training.
Quintana looked cool, calm and collected Tuesday night in his first appearance out of the bullpen for the Cubs — three-plus innings in a 7-1 loss to the Tigers in Detroit.
The left-hander quickly found a rhythm, working a 1-2-3 third inning. He then worked a sevenpitch fourth. After allowing a single to open the frame, he struck out Victor Reyes before getting an inning-ending double-play ball.
“I thought [Quintana] looked really sharp,” manager David Ross said. “He moved the ball in and out. I thought the breaking ball was really good. There were some nice cutters and changeups, some backdoor breaking balls. I thought he used both sides of the plate.”
All four of Quintana’s pitches were working and mostly effective as he struck out three and induced two double plays.
He ran into trouble in the sixth as he allowed a double, a single and a walk before being removed. Casey Sadler came in and allowed a grand slam to Jonathan Schoop, putting the game out of reach.
“It’s a little frustrating tonight because we were close to getting that great outing and [keeping] the game close,” Quintana said. “I felt really good. Just keep working.”
Quintana’s final line took a hit after the Schoop slam. He finished with three runs and four hits allowed in relief of Tyler Chatwood, who didn’t have the smoothest return from the injured list.
Chatwood (2-2) simply couldn’t get comfortable, struggling to find the strike zone with both his cutter and sinker. Because of that, he didn’t get the benefit of the doubt on the corners, either.
“I wasn’t good,” Chatwood said. “I’m not gonna make any excuses. I just wasn’t good tonight.”
When he was in the zone, the Tigers hit it hard, with three hits by Reyes, Miguel Cabrera and Niko Goodrum putting the Tigers in a position to do early damage. They scored a pair of runs on Cabrera’s single and a sacrifice fly from JaCoby Jones, and after more of the same in the second inning, Chatwood’s night was done.
The loss of control was unlike Chatwood in 2020. Even as he gave up seven runs in his last start before a mid-back strain forced him to the IL, he was able to find the strike zone.
“I thought he was just searching for his rhythm,” Ross said. “Looks like he was amped up to be back out there, a little quick off his backside. I thought he was rushing a little bit. That’s something that
I’ve seen from him in the past just a couple times — just gets in a hurry at times trying to make that next pitch. Slowing him down, getting him back into his kind of game rhythm, I think, will be important.”
Chatwood allowed two runs and three hits over his 1⅓ innings, walking a season-high five and striking out two.
Chatwood and Quintana are going to play important roles down the stretch for the Cubs. But how they use the tandem going forward is still to be determined.
Quintana says he’s going to do whatever his team and manager need him to do, but he’s not shy about what he hopes lies ahead as he continues to progress.
“I want to start games. and I want to help my team,” he said. “It’s not about good innings — it’s getting results and wanting to win. Hopefully I’ll be back in the rotation. I don’t know what’s coming for me, so I have to be ready for whatever situation Rossy needs me. I just wanna be healthy and do my job.”
Jose Quintana throws in the fourth inning Tuesday night in his return from the injured list. He was mostly steady in three-plus innings relieving Tyler Chatwood.