White Sox

Jose Quintana, bullpen lead White Sox to third straight win


Jose Quintana, bullpen lead White Sox to third straight win

CLEVELAND -- The offspeed stuff wasn’t there and his pitch count soared but Jose Quintana had run support and a hot bullpen at his manager’s disposal.

The starting pitcher and catcher Tyler Flowers quickly changed strategies and did enough to pass the baton as the White Sox downed the Cleveland Indians 4-1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night. Jose Abreu homered and the trio of Dan Jennings, Zach Duke and David Robertson struck out eight in three innings as the White Sox earned their third straight victory.

“Q was erratic,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It wasn’t really the control that you’d like to see. But he battled.

“He’s a strong kid, he battles and at least gets you to the point where you can get the bullpen in there. He bobbed and weaved as well as he could.”

Quintana said the cool, crisp air gave him trouble as he couldn’t grip the ball how he would have liked. More than a handful of times, Quintana appeared to lick his left hand to get a better feel.

While he had no trouble throwing his fastball, Quintana struggled to locate his curve, only throwing it for eight strikes in 24 tries.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“I feel uncomfortable with my hands,” Quintana said. “I try to fight every inning and keep the game close and get the win.

“A little bit dry. I feel a little bit dry, but this is the first month of the year. It’s a little bit cold. No matter what happens you try to do your job good.”

Poor offspeed command — he went to seven three-ball counts in 23 batters — and a Conor Gillaspie error didn’t help matters. Gillaspie’s third-inning miscue meant Quintana needed to throw 11 extra pitches to get out of the frame. Quintana had thrown 63 pitches through three innings.

That’s when he and Flowers switched plans and went with a more aggressive fastball-based approach. Following a two-out RBI double by Ryan Raburn in the fourth inning that cut the White Sox lead to 3-1, Quintana retired seven straight. He needed only eight pitches to retire the side in order in the fifth inning and set down Cleveland’s 3-4-5 hitters in the sixth.

Of the 104 pitches thrown by Quintana — who allowed an unearned run and three hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings — 70 were fastballs.

“Really nice job with not all his weapons,” Flowers said. “That’s a sign of a very good pitcher and he’s always been more of a command guy, but he’s been a command guy with all of his pitches. When that happens you expect six, seven out of him and a run or less. Saying that, today was even more impressive just really relying on fastball command and the occasional wrinkle in there.”

[MORE: White Sox rotation juggle could have top starters facing Tigers]

Quintana had plenty of help.

As Duke noted, the bullpen is “on a good roll.”

Jennings pitched around a two-out walk and an Alexei Ramirez two-base error to keep the lead at three runs in the seventh. Duke struck out the Indians’ 2-3-4 hitters in order in the eighth and Robertson did the same in the ninth.

The offense gave Quintana some early wiggle room with which to work.

Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera opened the game with consecutive singles off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, who was knocked out of the contest when he was struck by a liner off the latter’s bat. Cabrera’s line drive glanced off Carrasco’s glove and struck the pitcher on the jaw sending him to the ground immediately.

Carrasco didn’t move for several minutes before he was carted off the field. The Cleveland pitcher went to a local hospital where X-rays were negative and he showed no symptoms of a concussion or head injury and was being treated for a jaw contusion.

The White Sox took advantage of the situation as Adam LaRoche had an RBI groundout to make it 1-0 and Avisail Garcia’s two-out single off Zach McAllister gave them a two-run advantage.

Flowers made it 3-0 in the fourth with a two-out RBI single, one of two hits and Abreu regained the three-run lead with a 387-foot homer off Nick Hagadone in the fifth.

“I’m happy with this outing, and tomorrow I will prepare for my next start,” Quintana said. “I feel this is a new start for us.”

Rick Renteria approaching 2020 season like White Sox already in first place

Rick Renteria approaching 2020 season like White Sox already in first place

Rick Renteria's strategy for getting his team off to a fast start in baseball's 60-game sprint to the postseason?

Act like the season's already two-thirds of the way over — and that his White Sox are the team to beat in the AL Central.

"We've got a 60-game schedule. I'm going to assume we've already played 102 games and we're in first place and we're trying to hold on to that slot," the White Sox skipper said Monday. "It is important for a club to get off to a good start because obviously the schedule is waning, it's short. So I'm going to approach it that way and put us in a position where we are creative, try to have a good eye on what everybody's doing and see if we can kind of maintain ourselves through the whole schedule."

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Indeed, when the White Sox regular-season schedule begins later this month, they will be in first place. As part of a five-team tie, but in first place nonetheless.

If they want to be there when the regular season comes to a close just two months later, they'll need to topple the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, the two teams who fought it out for the AL Central crown last season. And with every game carrying twice or thrice as much weight as in a normal season, getting off to a good start is paramount. There's no time to dig out of a hole.

The White Sox appear capable of competing alongside their division foes, thanks to their young core breaking out in a big way last season and Rick Hahn's front office going to work to add impact veterans with winning experience over the winter. In fact, should everything go right for the White Sox, they could find themselves the most balanced of the three teams.

The Twins have a thunderous lineup that added perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson in the offseason, but will their pitching staff, past ace José Berríos at the top of the rotation, be able to match the impact of the bats? The Indians, meanwhile, might boast baseball's best starting rotation, but after Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez, two MVP types on the left side of the infield, how will their lineup perform?

RELATED: White Sox rookie Luis Robert confident in 'pretty hot' start to his '20 season

The White Sox have their own questions that need answering — specifically in the starting rotation, though the months-long layoff has allowed them to build some depth in that department — but should a revamped lineup and a talented collection of young arms meet the high expectations the team has set for itself, things could get very interesting as this brief season approaches October.

It's not at all outlandish to suggest that how Renteria will approach the season, as if the White Sox are in first place, is how it could end.


Richest MLB contract: When Chicago White Sox, Albert Belle made history

Richest MLB contract: When Chicago White Sox, Albert Belle made history

The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes rocked the sports world on Monday when it was reported the two agreed on a 10-year extension worth $450 million. According to Adam Schefter the deal will be the richest in American sports history.

Which got us thinking… remember when it was the White Sox making these headlines?

In 1996, less than 25 years ago, Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox signed Belle to the richest contract in baseball history, a (what is now measly) five-year, $55 million deal. That deal also made Belle the first baseball player to average over $10 million per season.

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While Belle only played two seasons on the South Side, the Sox certainly got their money’s worth for his services. He slugged 79 homers, drove in 268 runs and slashed .301/.366/.571.

Now, that record has been shattered of course. Mike Trout was previously the highest paid American athlete after he signed a 12-year contract extension worth $426.5 million in March of 2019. That number is still good for highest in baseball.

But if you’re looking for the most-expensive free agent signing in baseball, that award goes to Bryce Harper who signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019.

RELATED: Luis Robert crushes baseballs at White Sox Summer Camp batting practice