SAN DIEGO — Jose Quintana isn’t comfortable with how quickly things transpire as a relief pitcher.
But the White Sox pitcher also said Tuesday night he doesn’t plan on his first All-Star appearance being the final of his career. Quintana delivered a scoreless fifth inning in relief and the American League beat the National League 4-2 in the All-Star Game in front of 42,386 at Petco Park. The left-hander worked around an error and struck out Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos to strand the tying runs aboard.
“I don’t like being a reliever,” Quintana said. “I enjoyed the moment. But it’s really hard.
“I felt a little nervous at first, but mostly excited. But I did good and kept the score the same. I did my job so it was fun.”
Quintana managed to have fun throughout a surprise All-Star experience.
He smiled through his Monday-morning press session in disbelief of his last-minute selection after several years of being overlooked.
Later in the afternoon he spoke with Boston’s David Ortiz, who likely played in his 10th and final All-Star Game on Tuesday — “he’s the best player in the big leagues and he’s had an awesome career,” Quintana said. He followed that up with an early evening viewing of the Home Run Derby showdown between Todd Frazier and Giancarlo Stanton. Of Stanton’s 61-homer performance, Quintana said: “It was like a rocket every time.”
On early Tuesday, Quintana looked at ease as he strolled around the AL clubhouse. He didn’t expect to need many pitches to warmup for his outing because it promised to only last one inning. Quintana also expected to be able to let loose and that his preparation had him ready for the moment.
An All-Star veteran, Chris Sale said he loved watching Quintana experience the event. Sale was on the top row of the dugout when Quintana pitched in the fifth inning. A five-time All-Star, Sale said his mother took pictures of he and Quintana pitching and sent them to him.
“It was fun,” Sale said. “I enjoyed that. I was right there on the front bench watching it. Someone that’s very deserving of being here and not only being here, but pitching well in the game — I got enjoyment out of that.”
Quintana did too, particularly when he struck out Ramos to preserve the 4-2 lead.
His night began when Jose Altuve booted a routine grounder off the bat of Washington’s Daniel Murphy. Quintana quickly rebounded as he induced a fly out to right off the bat of Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado then grounded into a fielder’s choice. But San Diego’s Wil Myers put Quintana in a precarious spot when he doubled to right center.
True to his word, Quintana didn’t scare off.
Even with the tying run in scoring position, Quintana didn’t bend. He got ahead of Ramos with a first-pitch fastball before he snapped off two curveballs for the strikeout.
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He’s hopeful he’ll return to the All-Star Game next year. Maybe next time he’ll come back as the starter.
“It was good,” Quintana said. “A little bit more quick, but everything worked good today.
“I want to be here for a long time. Keep going hard and I want to be here next year again.”