Mandated by law to stay within arms-length of .500 at all times, Sox hitting was just a shade too Paul Konerko-reliant Saturday night vs. Arizona. The elder statesmen/captain/legal guardian vaulted the South Siders back into the game with his first home run of the season — a two-run blast — in the fifth inning, but grounded out with the tying run on second to end the game with a 4-3 defeat.
It was a surprisingly close shave for a Diamondbacks team that, while terrible and surely prone to coughing up games for no reason, dominated throughout and suppressed the Sox offense that is now expected to burn early deficits to the ground with ease. Wade Miley allowed just four baserunners over seven innings, with Konerko's bomb being the only mark against him.
Miley throwing with his left hand already defangs the Sox offense of Conor Gillaspie (who led off the ninth with a single and scored once he got in), and Adam Dunn. But Miley added to it by neutralizing the right-handed Cuban trio of Jose Abreu, Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez to a 1-for-6, 4K showing against him. Abreu, in particular, couldn't pick up his slider despite the long look at it. Miley's certainly capable of performances like this one, but the Sox inability to make him work for it wasted the closest thing they had to a pitching matchup advantage in this series.
A complete and thorough and truly triumphant Jose Quintana start still eludes us on the year. He cruised through the first four shutout innings, pounded the zone with a fastball that touched 93 mph repeatedly, and flashed a few more good sliders, which is something he's been clearly working to emphasize early this year.
His cutters stopped ducking and diving out of the middle the zone at once in the fifth. After the platooning Cody Ross led off the inning with a single, Al Marte plated him by ripping a double down the line. From there, Quintana didn't get the breaks necessary to limit the damage. On an odd play, Chris Owings rapped a hit into center and scooted into second while the Sox threw in to prevent Martin from scoring. Martin wound up scoring anyway when a jam-shot single from A.J. Pollock fell in over the infield, and Owings came home on a Martin Prado sacrifice fly.
Quintana added another scoreless inning, and left with another boffo FIP line (6 IP, 5K, BB, 0 HR) but with three earned runs on his tab.
Working on back-to-back days, Zach Putnam looked like a different man in relief, and not in a good way. His fastball floated around 90 mph and he couldn't spot anything, and he was lucky to only allow what wound up being the deciding run in the game. Owings wound up being the first out of the inning when his blast to left-center hit the wall a few inches short of a home run, and he was thrown out a third, a few inches short of a triple. Putnam then sandwiched a bloop single with two walks, and was charged with an earned run when Moises Sierra lost a Miguel Montero liner in the lights, turning a probable sac fly into an RBI single. A double play ball from Aaron Hill allowed him to escape with no further damage.
Old friend Addison Reed worked the ninth for the Diamondbacks and he's looking well, while also remaining himself. True to form, he turned a two-run lead into a nailbiter by allowing two singles to Gillaspie and Ramirez, with the second one scoring Gillaspie. But his fastball crackled at 93-95 mph, dotted the zone, and the few sliders he showed were tremendous. Konerko was felled on a groundout, but given the matchup, who could be mad?
Given the season, who could be mad with a 19-19 start?
Team Record: 19-19
Next game is tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. CT vs. the Diamondbacks on Comcast SportsNet
Follow The Catbird Seat on Twitter @TheCatbird_Seat