KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ho hum, Jose Quintana put on yet another pitching clinic on Tuesday night.
The newsworthy part of the contest involved the lavish run support Quintana received from his teammates as the White Sox pounded the Kansas City Royals 6-0 in front of 18,604 at Kauffman Stadium.
The White Sox started scoring early against Danny Duffy early and didn’t relent until they knocked him out with six runs allowed. The outpouring made an easier winner of Quintana, who combined with Anthony Swarzak on a four-hit shutout.
“Sometimes when you get a lot of runs early, it makes you relax,” Quintana said. “You try and get aggressive and throw the ball wherever the catcher calls and keep going. Don’t pay attention to the score and just try and get your outs.
“It’s good when you get offense early whenever you go to the mound.”
Life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries for Quintana (2-4) on the mound.
Much has been made over the years of Quintana’s struggle for run support. In spite of a career 3.43 ERA, Quintana only boasts a record of 48-50. He’s also received the most no decisions in baseball since 2012 (59).
Some have suggested the sacrifice of a live chicken to wake up White Sox bats. Others believe the team should create a Kickstarter account that accepts runs for Quintana instead of cash. Last season, each player created an individual pregame dance with Quintana designed to inspire offense for a pitcher who has received three or fewer runs in 110 of his 157 starts.
Despite facing Duffy, the White Sox found the offense early on Tuesday, which put everyone in the dugout at ease.
“It’s a great energy,” second baseman Yolmer Sanchez said through an interpreter. “We have a very good group of guys here. And we are just trying to enjoy this. Each one of us wants to help this team to win games, and when we score and we win, we feel happy.
“I’m happy when you can produce some runs for a pitcher like Quintana and you can win the game. Every time that he’s going to the mound he’s going to give you a chance to win.”
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Give him a run or two and you’ve got a shot. Give Quintana six and you’ve put your team in outstanding position to earn yet another surprising victory.
Tim Anderson and Sanchez each singled in the first inning only for Duffy to deny the White Sox. But they broke through in the second inning on three consecutive singles, the last by Geovany Soto to drive in Todd Frazier. Willy Garcia’s RBI fielder’s choice made it 2-0.
Then in third, Avisail Garcia singled in a run and Soto’s sac fly gave Quintana a four-run lead.
Duffy retired six of seven in the middle innings, but the White Sox added more cushion in the sixth. Avisail Garcia, who reached base four times in four trips, drew a leadoff walk and Soto singled him to third. The fifth run scored on Leury Garcia’s RBI fielder’s choice before Sanchez’s two-out RBI single off Chris Young made it 6-0. Sanchez finished 3-for-4 with a walk.
It’s only the 26th time in Quintana’s career he has received five or more runs in a start.
Duffy allowed 10 hits and walked two in five innings.
“The guys had a good approach,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Duffy is a pretty good chucker. They made a nice adjustment, and we were able to score early and add on.”
Quintana countered with his sharpest outing of the season.
Yes, it was against a lowly Royals offense that has produced 43 fewer runs than the MLB average of 112. But after a couple of bad innings sabotaged two of his first three starts, Quintana was outstanding. Not only did he keep pitches out of the middle of the hitting zone, Quintana hit the corners and induced a number of awkward looking swings from Kansas City hitters.
The left-hander retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced and was only one over the minimum through five innings. Quintana didn’t walk a batter until he issued a two-out free pass to Jorge Bonifacio in the seventh inning, and the Royals didn’t have two runners reach base in the same frame until the eighth. Even then, Quintana stayed sharp as he induced an inning-ending grounder off Lorenzo Cain’s bat.
Quintana allowed four hits, walked two and struck out seven in eight scoreless innings. In doing so, Quintana lowered his ERA from 5.22 to 4.10. Swarzak increased his scoreless streak to 13 1/3 innings with a strikeout in a perfect ninth.
“When you’ve got that support early that’s really good,” Quintana said. “I just keep doing my job and focus like the game is close, zero-zero, and get some quick outs and try for a complete game.”