CLEVELAND — Jose Quintana didn’t feel as if he was too far off with his command on Sunday afternoon.
But the tiniest misses led to too many pitches, particularly against the bottom of the Cleveland Indians lineup. The combination of those extra pitches and not enough run support led to another disappointing day for Quintana. The Indians’ 7-9 hitters reached base six times on and the White Sox didn’t get going until it was too late, falling 4-2 in front of 26,611 at Progressive Field.
Quintana dropped to 2-8 for the White Sox, who finished a nine-game trip with a 2-7 mark and lost all three series.
“I'm close,” Quintana said. “I feel pretty good. I fight every start. I want to be better, I want to get better for my team, better outings. It doesn't happen often for me in the past, but I keep fighting, I keep going.
“I fight with my command sometimes this year. Today was a little high with the pitches. I keep the ball down, but more missed in with fastballs. Sometimes I miss my spot, but that's all. Too many 3-2 counts.”
Eighth hitter Roberto Perez gave Cleveland a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the second inning when he singled just under the glove of Yolmer Sanchez with two outs to put Quintana behind 1-0. Quintana liked the location of the 0-2 fastball pitch to Perez. But the result was frustrating as Perez’s grounder up the middle scooted under Yolmer Sanchez’s glove for a two-out RBI single.
Two innings later, Edwin Encarnacion drew a leadoff walk and the Indians would push ahead by three runs. Jose Ramirez reached on a fielder’s choice and Austin Jackson singled. Ramirez advanced on Perez’s fly to deep center and scored on the first of two Quintana wild pitches. No. 9 hitter Erik Gonzalez then singled in Jackson to make it 3-0.
Quintana only lasted through five innings. He allowed three runs and five hits and struck out three in a 95-pitch effort (54 strikes).
“He had a lot of 3-2 counts today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s just a matter of commanding his fastball and seeing if we can get him to be able to get hitters a little more earlier obviously. That’s going to be the key for any of our guys. Be able to command strikes, good strikes, strikes that are not necessarily put in play with a whole lot of authority. And that will allow them to stretch their outings a little further.
“I thought he did a nice job of minimizing damage across the board for five innings.”
Todd Frazier expressed profound confidence in Quintana. He said he wants the left-hander, whose ERA stands at 5.30, to believe in himself, too. Frazier wants Quintana to think he’s the best pitcher in the American League.
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The veteran third baseman put some of the onus for Sunday’s loss on a White Sox offense that didn’t wake up until the sixth inning and then couldn’t do anything against the Indians bullpen. The White Sox responded after Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco struck Jose Abreu with a pitch just above the left elbow in the sixth. Avisail Garcia doubled Abreu to third and Todd Frazier doubled in both to make it a 3-2 game. Frazier finished 3-for-4 as he continued his hot June.
But that was it.
Terry Francona summoned Andrew Miller and the Indians’ bullpen took over. Miller struck out Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson to strand Frazier at second and keep Cleveland ahead. Miller struck out another batter in a scoreless seventh. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out for Cleveland, who added an insurance run in the seventh when Francisco Lindor doubled in a run off Tommy Kahnle.
“He’s going through it right now,” Frazier said. “And guess what? We didn’t get him runs. At the very end of the day, we didn’t score runs for him. He held them to three runs. You know, we got to score more. But there’s not one ounce in my body that thinks he’s a bad pitcher or think he’s not a No. 1 pitcher for any team.
“We have his back and I hope he understands that because I tell him that every day.”