Despite his consistent, durable pitching, Jose Quintana still hasn’t won 10 games in a season. On Thursday, that baffling statistic had everything to do with David Robertson’s blown save and nothing to do with how the 26-year-old left-hander threw.
Oakland Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler’s go-ahead three-run home run off Robertson in the top of the ninth dealt the White Sox a 4-2 loss in front of 12,406 fans at U.S. Cellular Field. Quintana was in line for what would’ve been his 10th win of the season before Robertson blew his seventh save in 36 tries this year.
“I’m just furious with myself,” Robertson said. “I just screwed up another win for one of our starters who pitched his (expletive) off. And I keep (expletive) doing it.”
Quintana turned in his 23rd quality start of the season — the second-highest total for an American League starter, only behind Houston’s Dallas Keuchel — by limiting Oakland to one run on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts over seven innings of work. He’s never won more than nine games in a season despite a career 3.51 ERA in 720 innings entering Thursday.
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Instead, Quintana’s major league tenure has been defined by the 50 no-decisions he’s been saddled with, including Thursday’s.
“I never feel (like I have) bad luck,” Quintana said. “It’s part of the game, it happens. (You) try to continue. Sometime that’ll change.”
Quintana’s lack of wins, for the most part, isn’t his fault. The White Sox are averaging 3.63 runs of support for him this year, slightly lower than 2014’s average (3.84) and 2013’s (3.73).
“We know he's a good pitcher,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You don't question that at all. Whether he's going to get some run support, that's the other question. Going out there, he's the same every day, he brings it every day. He's just very consistent about how he goes about his work, how he pitches, attitude, all that stuff that you'd like to see he does that every day. He doesn't hang his head on things like this, he knows guys are out there trying.”
Robertson’s disastrous ninth inning began with Brett Lawrie’s one-out double and an ensuing Danny Valencia single. Butler — who entered Thursday with the fifth-worst WAR among qualified hitters — then served an 0-1 cutter deep to right, with Avisail Garcia leaping to near robbing it. Garcia caught the ball in the webbing of his glove, but it was dislodged into the right field bullpen when he slammed into the fence.
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Over the last three seasons, Quintana has the 10th-most fWAR, racking about 13 WAR through consistent effectiveness over 200-inning seasons (Quintana is 10 innings away from reaching the 200-inning mark for the third straight year). But for whatever tough-luck reason, he hasn’t had the same success racking up wins in the old-school baseball sense.
“Q deserved that one, this team deserved this one,” Robertson said. “I did a terrible job. … He’s one of the hardest workers on this team. He gets a quality start almost every time he takes the ball. You can’t say enough about the guy.
“His record should be better. I can think of a couple of occasions and now I’ve messed one up for him again. It’s frustrating for me. I’ve got to be better.”