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Quantrill's great start clouded by unlucky HR

@AJCassavell
August 21, 2019

CINCINNATI -- The morning after he pitches, Cal Quantrill re-watches his starts. He tries to be as brutally honest as he possibly can. If Quantrill pitched well, did he really make the right pitches in the right spots? Or did he, perhaps, get away with a few mistakes? If he

CINCINNATI -- The morning after he pitches, Cal Quantrill re-watches his starts. He tries to be as brutally honest as he possibly can.

If Quantrill pitched well, did he really make the right pitches in the right spots? Or did he, perhaps, get away with a few mistakes? If he pitched poorly, what actually needs to change for his next start? Sometimes only his bad luck does.

Box score

“I think the most important quality for a pitcher is to be really honest,” said the Padres’ rookie right-hander. “How did you pitch today?”

That kind of self-evaluation, Quantrill says, is the only way to improve. His results aren’t quite as important as his process.

Of course, it's one thing to say that. It's another when you've just executed a fastball perfectly off the outside corner, but you’re crouched in front of the mound in despair, watching Freddy Galvis' seemingly routine opposite-field fly ball land in the first row.

Stuff-wise, Quantrill was excellent on Tuesday in the Padres’ 3-2 loss to Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park. He tied a career high with nine strikeouts, and he made some good hitters look foolish with 13 swings and misses. But Quantrill allowed three runs, including Galvis’ go-ahead two-run blast in the sixth, a ball that just wouldn’t stop carrying.

“In a lot of ballparks -- at our ballpark at home -- that's a routine flyout to left field,” Green said. “It got out of the park here.”

The numbers back Green’s assertion. Galvis’ homer left his bat with a 38 degree launch angle and an expected batting average of just .210. But Quantrill wasn’t about to use that as an excuse.

“Honestly, I didn't think it was going to go out of the yard,” he said. “I didn't think it had a chance. But different parks play different. In the end, if you don't like it, make a better pitch.”

Before the Galvis home run, Josh Naylor had tied the game with a long solo blast off Reds starter Sonny Gray -- a one-time Padres trade target, who had been working on a 23-innings scoreless streak. The Padres wouldn’t mount another charge, going hitless against the Cincinnati bullpen over the final three frames.

The result was particularly tough to swallow, given how well Quantrill pitched. It was yet another statement from the rookie right-hander that he could be a fixture in the team’s rotation. Since his return to a starting role in early July, Quantrill owns a 2.22 ERA.

That recent success earned Quantrill some extra leash on Tuesday night. Trailing by one in the top of the sixth, Green let Quantrill bat for himself, even though he was sitting on 87 pitches.

The decision was a tricky one and, in retrospect, it might have been the wrong one. Perhaps a pinch-hitter would’ve reached base, and Naylor’s blast would’ve been a go-ahead two-run shot. Perhaps another reliever could’ve retired Galvis.

But other factors were at play. The Padres have a bullpen game slated for Wednesday, and they needed every inning they could get from Quantrill. Plus, the righties on their bench were on the bench for a reason: Those particular matchups against Gray weren’t good.

So when Galvis’ 368-foot fly ball carried over the fence in left, all Quantrill could do was slump onto the infield grass, both hands on his knees in exasperation.

“I felt like I threw the ball pretty well,” Quantrill said. “It was just disappointment, emotionally, in the sense that I was given an opportunity to show that we can go deeper, as a staff, in games. Unfortunately, I didn't prove Andy right today. That's disappointing.”

A fiery and somewhat emotional competitor, Quantrill won’t watch his starts on the night he pitches. He feels as though the emotion of the moment clouds his judgement. After losses, his mind’s eye desperately wants certain pitches to look better than they actually were. After wins, those pitches might look a little too good.

So he waits a day. Then he gets to work.

“Tomorrow morning, you get up, you watch it,” Quantrill said. “You figure out what you did good and what you did bad. Then you make the adjustments. And next time you make better pitches.”

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.