Jose Quintana gets his turn taking lumps in Cubs’ loss to Marlins
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MIAMI — So much for the Cubs getting off to a quick start behind all the Opening Day starters in their rotation.
After four games against the stripped-down, no-name Marlins to open the season, the Cubs were lucky to escape with a split against a team that did more during the winter to assure a losing season than any other team in baseball.
Next up is a two-game series against a Reds team that looks on paper like the worst in the Cubs’ division but that looks at least as formidable as the storms in the Cincinnati forecast.
‘‘I know they’ve struggled so far, but that team on the field is as good as any team on the field in our division,’’ Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
That was before the Cubs got chased out of Miami with a 6-0 loss Sunday to the Marlins, a scoreless game that collapsed in a five-run fifth inning against Jose Quintana.
Quintana didn’t give up a hit until the fifth, but then came four, including a three-run double. He gave up another run in the sixth.
‘‘They beat us; give them credit,’’ Maddon said afterward. ‘‘Don’t beat up on us. They got us. Don’t be afraid to give the Marlins some credit.’’
Except that this was a Marlins team that since last season traded away an entire All-Star outfield, including reigning National League most valuable player Giancarlo Stanton, and second baseman Dee Gordon under chief executive officer Derek Jeter’s cheap new ownership group.
Meanwhile, the Cubs’ vaunted, rebuilt rotation got knocked around all weekend, with the exception of Kyle Hendricks on Friday.
The three others — Jon Lester, Yu Darvish and Quintana — all are former Opening Day starters and former All-Stars, and all were coming off good springs before laying their collective egg.
The three combined to pitch only 13 2/3 innings for a team that desperately needed more in a series that featured nine extra innings in the span of about 26 hours. And they allowed 14 runs total (9.45 ERA).
Quintana said he ‘‘felt good out there’’ but was unhappy with his sharpness, especially in the inning that got away from him. And the perpetually upbeat Maddon even admitted Quintana was a bit off.
‘‘We just haven’t pitched up to our capabilities as starters,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘But we will.’’
Meanwhile, the Cubs scored a combined 18 runs in their two victories and one run in 26 innings in their two losses. The lineup went 7-for-47 (.149) with 15 strikeouts with men in scoring position in the series against a mostly no-name pitching staff.
That included left-hander Dillon Peters, who pitched six scoreless innings Sunday in his seventh career start.
‘‘It’s not easy facing guys you don’t see,’’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. ‘‘And they have plus stuff. Until you get in the flow of things and get those at-bats under your belt, seeing all these new guys is not easy to do.’’
It’s only the first series of the season, with 158 games to play, including the next nine against familiar division opponents. But the Marlins?
‘‘There’s no disappointment whatsoever,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Four days down here, getting over the [cross-country travel] lag. And give the Marlins credit for playing really well.
‘‘I’m always accused of being an optimist, but I’m not disappointed. I thought we did a lot of good things today without a victory. Our starting pitching has not been as sharp as it can be, and you split. The bullpen is totally overtaxed, and they did a great job.’’
And he liked the hitting, too.
‘‘Quite frankly, we could not have hit the ball better than we did,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘That’s the most incredible shutout I’ve ever seen in my life.’’