NEW YORK -- Jose Quintana had a momentary lapse on Saturday afternoon and it unfortunately cost him.
The White Sox starting pitcher issued a two-out walk in the second inning and the New York Yankees made him pay. They pieced together a brief rally and Ivan Nova and three Yankees dominant relievers sent the White Sox to a 2-1 loss in front of 39,691 at Yankee Stadium.
Quintana fell to 5-2 even though he limited New York to two earned runs and five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.
“He had one inning that ends up tripping him up, but he’s sharp as usual,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s just what you expect out of him. We couldn’t get anything going. Nova was good. His sinker was great today. We kept beating it into the ground. We didn’t really get anything going. Fraz got one, but you don’t get anything. And if you don’t get anything early, you’re going to end up with that back end of the bullpen.”
Much like his entire body of work, Quintana was almost flawless on Saturday.
He easily set down the first five hitters he faced and jumped ahead of Chase Headley 0-2 in the count with two down in the second inning and no score.
But after a brief pause to remove a patch from his jersey, Quintana got untracked. He walked Headley on four straight balls (only his 10th base on balls issued this season) and Aaron Hicks followed with an opposite-field RBI double over Adam Eaton’s head to put New York ahead 1-0.
Didi Gregorious, who went 3-for-3, singled in another run to make it a two-run contest. Quintana yielded a ground-rule double to Austin Romine, but he got out of the jam and found a rhythm. He retired 15 of the last 18 batters he faced, limiting the Yankees to a pair of hits and another walk over his final five innings. Quintana has walked only 11 batters and struck out 47 in 52 2/3 innings this season.
But the damage done was enough.
“I felt really good,” Quintana said. “The base on balls against Headley changed the ballgame for me. I missed a couple of pitches against Hicks and that was it. Tough game.”
Quintana has surrendered two earned runs or less in all eight of his starts this season, the most in baseball. He snapped a tie with Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (seven starts).
Nova has always presented a difficult matchup for the White Sox.
He had his sinker working well and stymied them for 5 2/3 innings. Combined with an outstanding effort from the bullpen, Nova improved to 4-1 with a 2.42 ERA against the White Sox in seven starts.
Todd Frazier got the White Sox within 2-1 with a solo homer off Nova in the fourth inning, his 12th. Brett Lawrie later doubled in the inning, but Nova struck out Avisail Garcia to strand the tying run.
From there Nova limited the White Sox to a two-out walk in the sixth inning at which point Joe Girardi turned to his bullpen. Dellin Betances struck out Melky Cabrera to strand the tying run in the sixth and returned to strike out the side in the seventh inning.
Andrew Miller pitched around an Adam Eaton single in the eighth as he struck out two of the four he faced in his scoreless inning. And Aroldis Chapman earned the save with a dominant ninth. He ended an eight-pitch showdown against his former teammate, Frazier, with a strikeout on a 101-mph fastball. Chapman also struck out pinch-hitter Jerry Sands and got Lawrie to fly out.
Yankee relievers struck out eight of the 11 White Sox hitters they faced.
“We all know who they’ve got,” Frazier said. “It seemed like Girardi couldn’t wait to get Betances in there after they walked me and you know, they did good. You tip your cap to them today. They dominated the last three innings and hopefully we come back tomorrow and win the series.”