White Sox

White Sox offer Jose Quintana enough support in win over Twins

White Sox offer Jose Quintana enough support in win over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — Only in Jose Quintana’s world does Austin Jackson’s potential grand slam hook just outside the foul pole for a long, loud strike.

Of all the sick and twisted ways that Quintana has been denied run support the past few seasons, Monday’s could have qualified as one of the cruelest. Up a run and in search of more, Quintana saw a potential windfall sneak inches past the foul pole for a long strike in the top of the fourth inning.

Fortunately for Quintana, Jackson rebounded with a two-run single off Kyle Gibson that offered enough support to boost the White Sox to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins in front of 40,638 at Target Field. Quintana earned his first victory with six strong innings, and David Robertson recorded his third save as the White Sox improved to 5-2. The loss dropped the Twins to 0-7.

“Especially with Q going, seeing something like that, I thought it was even bigger that he gets the hit after that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “When you see it go foul you hope Q has something go his way and it did. That next hit is a big one, that he was able to do it, especially how long everything took in between those pitches.”

The White Sox had never really fared well against Gibson, who entered with a 4-0 mark and a 2.13 ERA against them.

But they made him work starting in the second inning and ran up a high enough pitch count to force Gibson (0-2) out by the sixth.

Brett Lawrie’s one-out RBI single in the second put the White Sox up a run.

Two innings later, they were in search of more when Jackson stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs. For an instant, Jackson appeared to break the game wide open when he ripped Gibson’s 81-mph changeup toward the corner in left. The drive had plenty of height, but hooked madly and just passed to the front side of the pole.

“I saw it start, it had a little topspin on it,” Jackson said. “I saw it start curving toward the foul pole. I still wasn’t really sure if it hit it or not. It just kind of disappeared. Dang.”

Third-base umpire Joe West instantly signaled that Jackson’s drive was a foul ball. Shortly thereafter, West and his crew of umpires conferred on the field. But they didn’t feel the need to look at a replay, and the White Sox ultimately didn’t request it because the ball somehow slipped by without contact.

“If it’s even close, maybe just nicking it, we’re going to look at it,” Ventura said. “But (pregame instructor Mike Kashirsky) said 100 percent it was foul, which to the naked eye it doesn’t look like it could fit in that little sliver without hitting the pole.”

Despite the lengthy delay, Jackson wouldn’t be denied. As soon as he stepped back in, Jackson ripped Gibson’s 2-2 fastball into center for a two-run single and a 3-0 lead.

“You have to re-focus yourself, take a deep breath and realize you still have a job to do,” Jackson said.

Quintana has managed to keep his focus on his next start time and time again despite a notoriously lengthy run of bad luck. With 53 in 121 starts, Quintana has eight more no decisions than any other starter in baseball since 2012.

But it hasn’t kept him from plugging away and continuing to be one of the most consistent pitchers in the majors going on four seasons. Ventura said Quintana never wavers no matter how unlucky he has been, not in the way he pitches, not during his side sessions or even how he acts on a daily basis. Quintana said he simply believes his luck will change and always worries about his next turn instead of overanalyzing his misfortune.

That might have helped him get out of a 29-pitch fourth inning, where it appeared he was squeezed. Miguel Sano walked on a borderline 3-2 pitch to open the inning, and Trevor Plouffe doubled to left. Byung Ho Park took Quintana to a full count when a close 1-2 pitch missed. But ultimately Quintana won that battle with a foul out. Quintana retired Eddie Rosario on an RBI groundout and struck out Eduardo Escobar to keep the White Sox ahead 3-1.

Quintana also pitched out of jams in the second and sixth innings, limiting the Twins to a run and four hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

Matt Albers then extended his scoreless streak to 27 1/3 innings over 24 games despite allowing a pair of hits in his only frame. Zach Duke, Nate Jones and Robertson recorded the final six outs.

Todd Frazier also added an insurance run in the ninth with an RBI double. Nobody was more excited than Quintana, especially with the way Jackson responded to his near-homer.

“It was exciting when I thought it was a homer,” Quintana said. “It was a close situation. After that, he came back, made a good swing and brought two runs for us.

“I feel this is the year for no more no decisions and for the team. We are excited. When you come into the ballpark every day, you come in excited for it because you have a new team, the real thing.

“We’ve got to change.”

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

Back for another round of questions here in the Sox Drawer. Let's go.

Q: Do you believe this is the Sox "Lester" offseason where they make a large investment in a player for the future? Or are we still one year away from seeing this? — @BCurley3

CG: That's a question many White Sox fans are wondering about. And by the "Lester" signing, I assume you are referring to the likes of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. I'd like to think that if the White Sox have a desire to sign a big-name free agent, they will make every attempt to do it now and not wait for the 2020 free agents, even if it's coming off a 100-loss season. As general manager Rick Hahn put it in his season-ending press conference, "You can't always control when certain players become available. You can say in 2020 or 2021 we expect to be this, and we know we are going to need X. You can't look at the projected free agent and say that player will be available, much less that player will be a White Sox when the time comes." It might turn out that the White Sox don't sign that marquee free agent this offseason, but going off what Hahn said, I believe they will go all-in when their targeted "Jon Lester" is available.

Q: If you had your choice, would the White Sox sign Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado? — @Dehhmac_

CG: I'll take either. Arenado gets the edge defensively. Machado has the advantage offensively. One stat about Arenado that gives me some pause is his career home/away splits. At Coors Field, he's slashing .320/.374/.609. Away from Coors Field, he's at .263/.318/.469. He's still a great player, but his numbers are inflated due to the higher elevation in Denver. If they don't sign him to a contract extension this winter, I'm curious to see if the Rockies listen to trade offers during the Winter Meetings like the Orioles did with Machado last year. The Rockies are much more competitive than the Orioles, so they might decide to go for it one more time with Arenado. If not, a crazy Winter Meetings just got crazier.

Q: I have long expected this to be the offseason when the Sox start signing free agents. However, lately, I've heard about possible big-name trade potentials. Do you expect trades this early in the rebuild or mainly acquisition through free agency? — @ToddHertz

CG: At some point, the White Sox will probably dip into their farm system to acquire major league upgrades where they see fit. Because there were so many injuries to prospects last season, I'm not sure they've seen enough to know exactly what they have to make those kind trades just yet. However, the one position in the minors where they seem very deep right now is in the outfield. That could be an area they could subtract from to add elsewhere. I think the White Sox timed their rebuild very well with free agency. Last year's lackluster free-agent class was a great time to be on the sidelines. The next two winters will have much better talent available. The White Sox don't have much on the books and will be in a good financial position to make upgrades.

Q: After Eloy comes up in April who's the next guy in waiting and when does he come up? —  @franknacchio19

CG: With two open spots in the rotation, we could see a few prospects compete for starting jobs in spring training. Jordan Guerrero, Jordan Stephens and Spencer Adams are possibilities. All three of them finished the season at Charlotte and could be close to knocking on the door. The next big name after that would seemingly be Dylan Cease, who if he continues to pitch like he did this past season will probably be on the Michael Kopech timeline to the majors, and Kopech came up in August.

Q: If the rumors are true and the Diamondbacks dismantle their roster, which player on their roster makes sense for this White Sox team long term? —  @mr_zablocki

Q: Who would you hypothetically trade for Goldshmidt? — @DaRealScaletta​​​​​​​

CG: Looking at the Diamondbacks' roster, there aren't many natural fits with the White Sox rebuild. Where's the All-Star third baseman on a rebuilding team with a four-year, team-friendly contract? I like Zack Greinke, but he's going to be 35-years-old and has three years and $104 million left on his contract. A 27-year-old Robbie Ray would be solid, but he's under team control for only two more years. Paul Goldschmidt is an all-world first baseman with three Gold Gloves, but he's a free agent after next season. Depending on what the White Sox do with Jose Abreu, who also has one year left on his contract, maybe they go after Goldschmidt next offseason if they don't re-sign Abreu.

Q: Tell a Yolmer story. — @NJBooth20

CG: Yolmer was wearing this cool T-shirt in the clubhouse this past season. On the front, it said "play hard" with a photo of him making Mickey Mouse ears. On the back it said "have fun," and there's the photo of him pouring Gatorade all over himself. I asked him if I could have one of those T-shirts. He said, "50 dollars." I countered with, "How about 30?" With perfect comedic timing, Yolmer came back with, "Make it 10." He might not be the best bargainer in the world, but Yolmer Sanchez is definitely one of the funniest people around.

Q: Why did Nagy run the ball on 3rd and 4?? — @rypie182​​​​​​​

CG: Not sure.

Q: Can I leave a voicemail? Too drunk to tweet. — @HurriKayne26​​​​​​​

CG: Rough Bears game.

Q: Who will be the biggest surprise and/or the greatest improvement for next season's team? — @nicklicious33​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. If he's able to come back, I can think of one person in particular who would be quite an incredible surprise in 2019. That's Danny Farquhar. At home in California recovering from his near-death brain aneurysm, Farquhar is training with the hopes of pitching in the majors again, possibly as soon as 2019. I wouldn't put it past him. He's a special person who has been defying the odds since that horrific night in April. It would be great to see!

Thanks again for all of your questions. We'll do it again next week.

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.