BALTIMORE — Jose Quintana is well aware of the lofty expectations that came with his trade to the Chicago Cubs.
He certainly dazzled his new teammates in his debut.
Quintana struck out a season-high 12 in seven sharp innings and the Cubs beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-0 Sunday for a three-game sweep.
“It was my first outing with the Cubs, but after the first inning, I felt really good,” Quintana said. “I threw everything in the first inning and just focused on making quick outs.”
Acquired by the defending World Series champions during the All-Star break from the Chicago White Sox for a playoff push, Quintana gave the Cubs exactly the kind of boost they hoped to get.
“It could really be a big boon to us, there’s no question,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “Everybody else saw it.”
The lefty ace allowed three hits, walked none and joined Matt Garza as the only pitchers in Cubs history to fan 12 in their debut.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo homered to help the Cubs move over .500 for the first time since June 29. The Cubs hit 10 home runs during the sweep at Camden Yards.
Chicago took advantage of another wild start by Ubaldo Jimenez (4-5) and opened a 4-0 lead in the second. Willson Contreras added a career-high four hits.
The Cubs traded their top two prospects, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease, along with infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete, to get Quintana. He was 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA for the White Sox.
Chicago began the day 5 1/2 games behind in the races for the NL Central and second wild-card spot.
“We’re playing a world champion team that everyone knew was going to get going at some point,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Unfortunately, they started here. They’re on the top of their game. They have a lot of good pieces. We were not up to the challenge.”
Quintana retired nine straight batters until Adam Jones led off the fourth with a double. This was the 10th time in his career, and third this season, he fanned at least 10.
“All the other starters saw it. They saw that we grabbed a lead and there was no messing around. There was no walks. There was no bad counts.”
Ian Happ had a two-run double and scored on Jason Heyward’s single in the second. Heyward stole second and scored the fourth run on a two-out single by Ben Zobrist.
A two-run homer by Bryant, his 19th, boosted the margin to 6-0 in the fourth.
Jimenez allowed six runs and 11 hits, one shy of tying a career-high, over 3 2/3 innings. He has not pitched past the fifth inning in four of his past five starts.
Rizzo hit his 22nd home run in the ninth off Darren O’Day.
“I really believe if we play with that kind of internal fire, that kind of energy we’ll win a lot of games in the second half,” Maddon said.