Jose Quintana felt better about his second start of 2017, but hasn't quite found a groove just yet.
Despite Quintana's solid 6 1/3 innings, the White Sox lost to the Twins, 4-1, in front of 24,074 at Guaranteed Rate Field Sunday afternoon. Quintana allowed two runs on five hits with one walk, one home run and seven strikeouts, a marked improvement from his season-opening start Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers (5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 HR, 2 K).
"I (felt) pretty good today, better than last time," Quintana said.
Quintana didn't have his best stuff on Sunday, with his trusty curveball rendered largely ineffective as the day went on. The 28-year-old left hander threw only 14 of his 30 curveballs for strikes, according to BrooksBaseball.net, and only generated one swing and miss with it.
So Quintana pounded his fastball against the Twins' lineup, firing 76 percent of them for strikes and getting eight swings and misses on that pitch. He only missed badly with one fastball, which he left over the plate on a 1-2 offering in the sixth to shortstop Jorge Polanco, who ripped it over the left field wall for a solo home run.
While Quintana lightly hit himself on the head after giving up that home run to Polanco, he was generally pleased with how he threw his fastball.
"Today was better with the fastball command, (I got) a lot of strikeouts, especially with the fastball," Quintana said. "That's good, that is what I want."
Catcher Omar Narvaez and Quintana had to change their signs with runners on base after the third inning, in which a passed ball allowed Robbie Grossman (who had doubled) to advance to third and score the first run of the game on Joe Mauer's two-out single.
Quintana also mixed in his changeup more later in the game, using it to strike out Minnesota masher Miguel Sano in the sixth. It didn't matter in terms of the White Sox chances to win, though, thanks to a dominant outing by Twins starter Ervin Santana (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and Sano's lead-padding two-run home run off Nate Jones in the eighth inning.
But Quintana's ability to make those in-game adjustments and succeed without his best stuff are reasons why manager Rick Renteria came away happy with how his ace threw on Sunday.
"If you look at him in terms of how he approaches the day to day, he maneuvered and navigated early, especially through some trouble," Renteria said. "So he shows the wherewithal and the focus and the ability and the tenacity to continue to pitch. That, to me, shows you part of what a No. 1-type pitcher does. He's able to work with his stuff and continue to keep you in the ballgame. That's a pretty good outing."