CHICAGO – Fatigue? What fatigue?
Cubs manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t go so far as to say sleep is overrated Friday.
“Is it?” he asked after his team beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-1, at Wrigley Field.
But Maddon was impressed by the jump his team had right from the
1:20 p.m. first pitch. The Cubs got in overnight after beating the Mets on Thursday night in New York. Maddon had to do a little roster management, resting Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward.
That roster management does get a little easier when Nicholas Castellanos is on the roster. Castellanos belted two-run homers in each of the first two innings to help stake starting pitcher Jose Quintana to a 5-0 lead, and the fully caffeinated Cubs had enough energy to finish their fourth straight victory.
The Cubs are now a season-high 12 games over .500 at 73-61. They are 9-3 over their past 12 games.
“We came out with some great energy,” said Maddon, no morning person he. “The dugout before the game was buzzing.”
Castellanos has been on a Cubs-fan high at Wrigley Field since the Cubs traded for him July 31. His homers off Chase Anderson were his 21st and 22nd of the season, and he could be the National League Player of the Month. His 11 homers in August are the most by a Cub since Sammy Sosa hit 11 in August 2002. He owned the NL lead in hits (40) and extra-base hits (20) this month before the rest of the league played Friday night.
“I guess we were just ready to play,” Castellanos said. “We took good swings at good pitches, and we got decent results. It’s very easy to get fired up.”
Quintana may not have had his best stuff, but he did enough to get the win, pitching 52/3 innings of four-hit shutout ball to improve to 12-8 and lower his ERA from 4.05 to 3.90. His 12 wins lead the Cubs, and he is 8-1 with a 3.08 ERA in his past 11 starts.
He also doubled home a run in the Cubs’ three-run second for his first career extra-base hit.
“I don’t remember when the last time it was that I hit the ball like that,” he said. “It’s great. I contributed. That helps. I’m happy with that.”
On his pitching, Quintana was equally bullish.
“I feel great,” he said. “Right now, my command of all my pitches, I feel, are at a better level. I have a really good chance of competing and giving my team a chance to win a game. I feel great right now, and it’s time to get the best we have.”
Like most Cubs, Quintana has been impressed by Castellanos, who has brought joy, energy and production to the Cubs when they needed it most.
“What he’s been doing is really impressive for the top of our lineup,” he said. “A lot of energy. When I see him up in the box, you feel like really good things are going to happen.”