The White Sox not giving Jose Quintana much support isn’t something new, seeing as the club entered Tuesday night’s game averaging 2.59 runs in the left-hander’s first seven starts this season.
What is new, though, is that Quintana’s seven innings of two-run ball meant for the first time in 2015 Jeff Samardzija, Chris Sale and Quintana have thrown back-to-back-to-back quality starts.
The White Sox still lost to Cleveland Tuesday, 3-1, as Trevor Bauer’s effective wildness snapped a six-game winning streak. But it wasn’t for lack of effort from Quintana, who followed Samardzija and Sale’s lead and kept the White Sox within striking distance against the Indians right-hander.
“I try to follow (them), Quintana said. “We have a pretty good rotation and I tried to keep us winning.”
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Samardzija, Sale and Quintana combined to allow six runs in 25 innings with a 16/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and one home run in their last three starts. The top-of-the-rotation triumvirate hasn’t been effective over a three-game stretch this year, with each of them struggling at points over the season’s first month and a half.
Quintana wasn’t dominant Tuesday, but he was effective despite allowing eight hits and four walks. He pitched out of numerous jams and only gave up his first run when Avisail Garcia — who still appeared hobbled by some right knee inflammation — misjudged Jason Kipnis’ first inning leadoff line drive into a triple. Kipnis scored on Jose Ramirez’s sacrifice fly to give Cleveland an early advantage.
The White Sox got on the board in the fifth on Garcia’s two-out RBI single, but Alexei Ramirez whiffed at a fastball in his eyes and a curveball in the dirt to strike out and end the inning with the bases loaded. Bauer and relievers Bryan Shaw, Mark Rzepczynski and Cody Allen combined to shut down the White Sox lineup the rest of the way.
“He has been pitching very well,” outfielder Melky Cabrera said of Quintana through a translator. “Sometimes we have to also face good pitchers in the same game that he is pitching. But it’s tough for us to see that kind of performance that he has been doing continuously and we weren’t able to support him enough to provide him the runs to win the games.”
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Still, the positive here is getting the kind of starts from the three pitchers the White Sox expected to lean on coming into the season. Only Washington’s Stephen Strasburg/Max Scherzer/Jordan Zimmermann trio racked up more WAR in 2014 than Sale/Samardzija/Quintana, though putting those three together hasn’t resulted in the kind of shutdown starts their numbers would suggest until the last three days.
Whereas the White Sox seemed to take one step forward and two steps back in April, with their top three starters rounding into form there’s a confidence things are still moving in the right direction no matter what happened Tuesday night.
“It’s what we’re expecting out of ourselves,” Samardzija said. “It’s not so much a rhythm, it’s getting back to what we expect every day we start. We know a lot goes with how we go, and as long as we get our offense back in the dugout we have a pretty good lineup to score some runs.”