ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jose Quintana missed the bag on Sunday afternoon.
The White Sox and their struggling offense missed out on a chance to earn another series victory.
Quintana’s two-out error in the third inning allowed a critical run to score as the Tampa Bay Rays held on to send the White Sox to a 3-2 loss in front of 21,810 at Tropicana Field. Matt Moore struck out 10 over 6 1/3 dominant innings to outdo Quintana, who struck out six himself.
“You end up missing first and it ends up costing you,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s how close it. Moore was fantastic and something like that ends up costing Q.”
Though he ultimately settled in to face the minimum over his final three innings, Quintana got hit hard early. Tampa Bay scored once in the first inning on a Steve Pearce RBI double to center.
The Rays really made Quintana labor in the third with the score tied at 1.
Logan Forsythe doubled and scored on a Brandon Guyer RBI single, one of four hits for the right fielder. After Evan Longoria singled, Quintana battled back and struck out Pearce and retired Desmond Jennings on a pop out to second. Quintana appeared to get out of the jam with just the run allowed as Logan Morrison hit a grounder to first. But even though Jose Abreu made a nice flip, Quintana missed tagging the base by a wide margin, which allowed Guyer to score all the way from second for a 3-1 lead.
“Jose did a good job,” Quintana said. “I caught the ball. He threw it to me in a good spot. But I never saw the base, and that was the point. I just missed the base. When we play in this situation, you try to go in a good direction, but that’s all. I just missed the base.”
Moore made a similar error in the top of the third that gave the White Sox their first hit (an Adam Eaton infield single) and sparked a game-tying, two-out rally as Austin Jackson singled to right to drive in a run.
But that was the last mistake Moore made until he tired in the seventh inning.
Moore struck out Jose Abreu to strand runners on the corners and end the rally, which prompted the slugger to hit his bat in frustration.
Using a fastball-knuckle curve combo, Moore retired 11 of the next 12 he faced.
This is what happens when a cold offense (see: 15 runs in six games) runs into a pitcher who spotted his fastball outside and had his offspeed diving inside to righties.
“We’ve been struggling,” Ventura said. “But today, I don’t know too many teams that would go up against Moore and do anything. He was fantastic and it was coming out of his hand great and we scuffled. We’re a swing-and-miss kind of team and we’ve got some pop with it, but today he was just better.”
The left-hander struck out Todd Frazier and Jerry Sands three times each.
It wasn’t until Brett Lawrie doubled in the seventh that the White Sox got to Moore again. Avisail Garcia singled in Lawrie to make it a 3-2 game and chase Moore, who gave up five hits and hit one. But the combination of Enny Romero and Alex Colome combined to retire eight of nine batters to close out the game.
Frazier struck out again to start the ninth inning ahead of a walk by pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera. Colome battled back and induced a Brett Lawrie pop out and Garcia grounder to end the game.
Frazier, who has struck out 14 times in 49 at-bats, praised Moore’s effort. He also noted that the White Sox, himself included, missed hittable pitches.
Though the White Sox offense struggled on the road, the team won four of six. Frazier is taking solace in that despite the team’s slow offensive start.
“It’s been a rough stretch,” Frazier said. “But if you’d tell me we’d be 8-4 right now, I’d say that’s great, good start. You’ve got to work on the positives. It’s just one of those days. It has been adding up a little bit. It’s early, but at the same time, you want to be doing well. Maybe trying a little too much. But we’ll take 8-4 any day of the week.”