TORONTO — Jose Quintana took another big step forward on Friday night and the White Sox rewarded him handsomely.
And then some. And then some more.
The White Sox provided Quintana with half as many runs as they have all season on Friday night in an 11-4 rout of the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Quintana responded with seven sharp innings to earn his first victory since May 2. Melky Cabrera homered, drove in five runs and had an outfield assist for the White Sox, who finished with 14 hits as they won for the fourth time in five games.
“Wow it was a lot of runs,” Quintana said. “It was really good, (gives me) confidence and (I tried) to get my outs every inning. I wanted to throw the ball really well tonight. Needed that outing to get my confidence high again.”
Quintana has never been justly supported by his teammates. He’s the king of no decisions.
This season has seen the worst of it as Quintana entered the game with a 2.65-run support average, the worst in the majors. The White Sox had scored 22 runs this season with Quintana on the mound. They’d produced two or fewer runs for him in 10 of 13 previous starts.
But for one night at least the White Sox tried to make up for their inadequacies.
Alen Hanson, who reached base four times in five trips, singled and Cabrera walked ahead of a two-run triple by Jose Abreu in the first inning off Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini. Todd Frazier’s sac fly made it 3-0 and Biagini’s error on Tim Anderson’s infield single allowed Matt Davidson, who doubled, to score the fourth run.
The support continued in the second when Cabrera doubled in two runs and Abreu doubled him in to make it a 7-0 contest. Hanson added an RBI single in the third and Cabrera blasted a three-run shot in the fifth as well. It’s only the fourth time in Quintana’s career he has received double-digit run support.
Quintana then did what he’s supposed to with the enormous lead.
He pitched to contact. He got his team back into the dugout quickly. And he only issued two walks. The result was Quintana’s sixth quality start of the season and his best effort since throwing a one-hitter over eight innings at Seattle on May 19.
“He just kept pitching,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I thought his changeup was working really well. Pumped the strikes. Worked ahead. He did a nice job. That’s one of the better outings we’ve had in a while. And, that’s the first time we’ve given him that type of support to start the game.”
Quintana surrendered leadoff homers in the second (Kendrys Morales) and third innings (Steve Pearce) but nothing more. He limited the Blue Jays to two runs and five hits while striking out five. The left-hander threw strikes on 61 of 99 pitches and benefitted from three double plays. Cabrera also erased Todd Frazier’s two-base error when he threw Pearce out at home on Darwin Barney’s two-out single in the fifth.
After surrendering 15 earned runs over consecutive starts, Quintana has begun to rediscover the formula that made him great the past four seasons. By hitting the corners and not leaving mistakes over the middle, Quintana has a 3.12 ERA in his past three starts. It’s what everyone has always expected from Quintana, the team’s most dependable starter since 2013.
It’s also the kind of rebound the White Sox — teammates, coaches and front office personnel — all believe Quintana is capable of making.
And on Friday they showered him with their support.
“We felt good, but we kept going to score as many runs as we can, especially for Jose,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “We were happy about it.”