The Cubs did all they could Thursday night to beat both the rain and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
They succeeded in both counts but at a price, beating the Pirates, 2-0.
The Cubs moved up their scheduled 7:05 p.m. start to 6:35 p.m. and almost got through dry, enduring a one-hour, nine-minute rain delay at the end of the seventh inning.
Jose Quintana turned in the best performance by a Cubs starting pitcher this season as he worked seven innings of four-hit ball, walking one and striking out 11. Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop worked scoreless innings of relief, with Strop picking up his first save of the season.
But for the time being the Cubs likely will be without backup catcher Victor Caratini, who started and doubled home the second run in the two-run seventh. During his first swing of the at-bat, Caratini injured his left hand, and the Cubs fear he broke the hamate bone. He managed to hit and didn’t really feel the injury until he got to second base.
The Cubs will know more after a CT scan Friday, but it appears he’ll be out at least three to four weeks with arthroscopic surgery likely. Look for the Cubs to recall catcher Taylor Davis from Triple-A Iowa in time for the start of a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels.
“Yeah, it’s not easy, and it’s definitely frustrating, especially how I started out the season the way I was really hoping to,” Caratini said through an interpreter. “Unfortunately, those are things I just can’t control, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to bounce back.”
Caratini, who backs up Willson Contreras at catcher, had two doubles in three at-bats and is 8 for 14 (.571) for the season.
Quintana was as good as he’s been with the Cubs since he came over in a trade with the White Sox in July 2017. He turned in the longest start of the season by a Cubs pitcher this year and had everything working.
“I felt great,” he said. “I felt my arm really alive. Off-speed was great all night. Just tried to attack early and get some outs and go a little longer. We needed [to win] the first series of the year. I’m happy with this outing.”
The Cubs improved to 4-8 for the season, taking two of three from the Pirates after losing series at Texas, Atlanta and Milwaukee.
Manager Joe Maddon was not around to see the ending. He was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes while Caratini was at the plate.
“It was the way that thing was starting out, I didn’t like some of the stuff happening,” Maddon said. “It’s so hard arguing from our dugout. If it was easier, you could just argue and stay in the game. The dugout, the distance and the loudness, makes it impossible to make your point without getting out of the dugout and fully exposed to the umpire. So I had to do what I did at that moment. I wasn’t going to take it any longer, and I did it. That’s pretty much it – the low ball that was called a strike.”