By Kevin Powell
WRIGLEY FIELD – Jose Quintana has already proven he belongs on the mound in big games. He was outstanding in Game 3 of the NLDS, and he gave the Cubs five strong innings of two run ball in Game 1 of the NLCS.
“Q’s been great,” Joe Maddon said before their Game 4 win. “He’s ready to play all the time. Q’s just good stuff. The stuff’s really been spiking in a positive direction, velocity has been up, curveball has been better. I know one thing, he’ll be ready to pitch tomorrow night.”
Game 4 is a rematch of the series opener between Quintana and Kershaw. They wound up giving up the same runs, but Quintana pitched deeper into the game. With the wind blowing in, we could see another low scoring matchup. The last time the Cubs faced Kershaw in October at Wrigley was in their Game 6-clincher last year.
“It helps us with, honestly, good at-bats. The guy’s so good. You just don’t know what he’s going to look like coming out tomorrow,” Maddon said. “We have to elevate our game offensively. It’s just that simple. It’s not about maybe kind of, hopefully; we’ve got to do it. How do you do that? You have to stick with your game plan. You’ve got to be more centered. You’ve got to be a tougher out with two strikes. You’ve got to move the baseball in situations. We’re capable of doing all those things. That’s what needs to occur for the next three games against Los Angeles.”
The Cubs offense desperately needs to get more men on base. They’ve scored seven runs in the first four games, all coming via the home run.
No surprises in Maddon’s lineup with the lefty Kershaw on the hill. Albert Almora, who homered off Kershaw in Game 1, will start in center and leadoff. Ben Zobrist in right gives the offense a better chance than Jason Heyward.
It’s a travel day in the American League, so Game 4 will air at a much more reasonable time, 7:08 p.m. CT, on TBS. True Blue Playoff Plus will air immediately following Blackhawks hockey on WGN Radio and wgnradio.com.
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720