It’s a long season and there’s a lot of ghosts the White Sox will need to exorcise over the course of the year, and Wednesday night they set about rescuing Jose Quintana from a sure no decision.
1. Quintana was not at his very sharpest, walking three and putting runners in scoring position in four of his six innings of work, but was certainly at his most electrifying. Trying to paint the corners with everything isn’t the most efficient way to get through a night, but Quintana struck out 10 Blue Jays hitters by dialing up his best velocity and nailing impossible spots in seemingly impossible situations.
After a Josh Donaldson double in the first inning, Quintana struck out Jose Bautista looking. In the third inning, with runners on first and second, he blew away Bautista with back-to-back fastballs up top, and in the fifth inning, right after Donaldson had reached base and put the potential go-ahead run on second, Quintana dropped a curve on the corner to end the frame and whiff the Blue Jays slugger a third time. Bautista’s plate appearances summed up the night on the whole. When Quintana needed a strikeout, he reached back and got it, no matter who was up.
2. Yet as Quintana turned the game over into the seventh, he was stuck in a 0-0 duel with Jays starter Marco Estrada, who was still shoving past 100 pitches despite looking like he was dealing with shoulder discomfort. But with the way the Jays bullpen has been betraying him all month, manager John Gibbons apparently felt the better route was giving his starter all the rope he could handle. One strike away from seven clean innings, Estrada’s 118 pitch of the night was roped into the right-center gap for a two-run triple by none other than everyday catcher Dioner Navarro, who had not tripled since 2012.
3. Austin Jackson, finally showing major signs of life in Toronto with a two extra-base hits, immediately provided insurance in the seventh with a triple to the right-center gap of his own to drive in Navarro, and added a walk. Jackson’s hitting just .239/.292/.343, but his OPS has jumped up 200 points in four games.
4. Baseball’s stingiest bullpen slightly decreased their runs allowed average with three shutout frames. Zach Duke has now given full scoreless innings in five of his last six times out, and Nate Jones and David Robertson both sport ERAs under 1.00. Robertson working with a four-run lead was unusual, since he worked three-straight days up until Tuesday night, but he likely was already warming before Avisail Garcia‘s RBI single in the top of the ninth.
5. The White Sox have won six in a row, just swept two 2015 playoff teams in a row, have recorded five shutouts in their first 22 games, have scored 23 runs in the seventh inning this season, and their 16-6 record puts them on pace with the 2005 team. There are surely more of these if we look but this will do for now.
Lead Image Credit: John E. Sokolowski // USA Today Sports Images
Team Record: 16-6
Next game is Thursday at 6:05pm CT at Baltimore on CSN.