What will be more difficult? Explaining to future generations how impossibly nasty Chris Sale was in his heyday when decades of pitching development will make his pitch mix and delivery seem ordinary, or explaining the sublime nature of Jose Quintana‘s mastery over all that he can control.
1. A leadoff double from Leonys Martin put Quintana in a hole to start the game; one that was immediately deepened by a passed ball by the newly returned Alex Avila. Two batters later, Robinson Cano clubbed a deep sacrifice fly to right, and Quintana suddenly seemed on the ropes and lucky to only be down 1-0.
Whereas Sale fell behind 3-0 Friday night before his wrath of destruction began, Quintana self-actualized a bit sooner. He retired the next ten batters in a row, varying his deadly precise fastball from the inside corner to on top of the strike zone with ease, and mixing in a curveball that was dominant Saturday night. Quintana cruised unbothered until the sixth when Martin smacked another leadoff double, and scored on a Guillermo Heredia groundout. By then, Quintana’s 1-0 deficit had flipped to a 7-1 advantage, and he cruised into the eighth, until a strange call for Dan Jennings to face Heredia ended his day..
2. The perennial refrain of “he’s not fooling anyone” applied to Mariners starter Ariel Miranda early. Batting second, Tim Anderson whacked a first-inning triple to the right-center gap, and came home on what was ultimately an unnecessary Melky Cabrera sacrifice fly, because Jose Abreu came up after him and blasted a low outer-half fastball 425 feet out to dead center. Miranda retired nine batters in a row after working through an additional first inning jam, but after a two-out rally kickstarted by an Avisail Garcia double and Tyler Saladino rapping a single to bring him home, he ended the fourth down 4-1 and at 90 pitches.
3. The Mariners turned to swingman Vidal Nuno in the fifth, who succeeded in taking a small deficit to a laugher. The crafty left-hander entered the night with a 2.30 ERA over 15.2 innings against the Sox for his career, and got two quick outs in the fifth before allowing a single to Todd Frazier, and hanging a curve that Justin Morneau lifted a fly to the right field corner for a triple. That was immediately followed by Garcia crushing a two-run shot to right-center, which itself was quickly trailed by Avila going back-to-back and pushing an opposite field fly just over the wall and into the left field bullpen.
As much as Nuno had his hand on the crank as the game blew to pieces, at that point it was 7-1 and innings needed to be eaten. He danced around two singles for a scoreless sixth before Saladino ripping his seventh home run of the year, a two-run shot to left, capped the scoring. Nuno allowed 10 hits in three innings.
4. The Jacob Turner reliever project hit a bit of a skid in the ninth, as a run-scoring sacrifice fly was the only out he could procure across five batters. A bases loaded jam forced in Nate Jones, who needed two pitches to induce the game-ending double play.
5. Garcia, who we have been told is being watched, collected three hits in all, highlighted by his two run-scoring blasts, and is back up to .251/.316/.401 on the season. Anderson’s two hits pushed his OBP back up over .300 to a .285/.304/.442 line, and Frazier joined him in that club by slapping two singles and collecting a walk. He sits at .217/.300/.456.
Team Record: 62-66
Next game is Sunday at 1:10pm CT vs. Seattle on WGN
Lead Image Credit: Mike Dinovo // USA Today Sports Images