With two outs in the fifth inning of a tie game and a runner on second base, White Sox manager Robin Ventura opted for his starter Jose Quintana to face Kyle "The Fast Hulk" Schwarber over Dexter Fowler.
Sometime during the intentional walk to Fowler, Schwarber turned his normal Hulk green.
Quintana's fifth pitch against Schwarber turned out to be the one that swung the momentum in favor of the Cubs as the latest rookie phenom on the North Side drove in Addison Russell from second base to put them on top, 2-1, giving them a lead they would not give up for the rest of the evening in a 6-3 victory over the Sox.
On the surface, Ventura's decision wasn't crazy.
Fowler is hitting over .300 against lefties this season from the right side of the plate and already had a RBI double earlier in the game against Quintana. Schwarber is somewhat vulnerable against lefties, only hitting .259 this year (compared to a scorching .342 against righties) and had two bad at-bats against Quintana earlier in the game that were not impressive (strikeout and fly out).
But examining Schwarber and Fowler's numbers over the Cubs recent hot streak would have told a different story. Over the past 11 games, Schwarber is hitting .310 with five home runs while Fowler is only hitting .190.
Quintana almost escaped trouble when he had "The Fast Hulk" cornered in a 2-2 count after throwing him four straight breaking balls. But the lefty missed with a fastball and the evening theme of Cubs capitalizing on White Sox mistakes began.
"We were trying to go in-off a little bit, he’d been chasing a little bit in-off," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. "We sank it in there a couple of times, elevated in. Before that we went four breaking balls. It felt like if we executed a pitch it probably would have worked but he just kind of pulled it back over the plate."
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Before Fowler's intentional pass, Ventura went out to the mound to explain to Quintana his reasoning for wanting him to face Schwarber instead.
"You want your pitcher not getting blindsided by it," Ventura said. "He was fine with doing it. Execution wise it just didn’t happen at that point, and they got the hit. He understood and he was ready to go."
Though Quintana earned another quality start in what's been another statistically frustrating season for him, he knows he's got to be better in critical situations in order to help his team win.
"I’m not happy with how I pitch tonight," Quintana said. "Too many pitches with two outs, especially early in the game. But two runs with two outs, 3-2 two times, tried to go away one time, go in the next time. That’s all. I missed in a big moment and it happens."