For a team with pitching as bad as the White Sox, it surprises that Jose Quintana's non-awfulness has not been more celebrated. Since the White Sox offense has been so much improved from last year, it surprises how Quintana had been tagged for a 3-7 record going into Tuesday night while taking clear steps forward as a pitcher. And it surprises that Quintana could step into Tuesday night's game tasked with ending a five-game losing streak that his hard luck night in Minnesota started, and breaking a four-game skid of the Sox losing his starts. He's better than this, frankly.
Quintana wound up not only making the best of it, but propped up another creaky performance from his teammates like it was 2013, carrying the Sox to a 4-2 win behind seven innings of one-run ball in perhaps his signature performance of the season.
Despite Quintana's brilliance, the Sox offense cannibalized scoring opportunities, and another shaky ninth inning from Ronald Belisario put the Sox on the brink of more heart-rending disaster. After Scott Downs failed in his one job to retire Chris Davis to lead-off the inning with an out, Belisario put the tying run on base by allowing back-to-back singles to Manny Machado and Delmon Young, before a Ryan Flaherty double play ball saved the Sox from exaggerated heartbreak.
The South Siders led from the onset thanks to a Gordon Beckham first inning solo shot, and after stranding Conor Gillaspie at third in the first inning, they struck ahead to a 2-0 advantage on Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez behind an Alexei Ramirez leadoff double and an RBI single from a resilient Alejandro De Aza in the second.
De Aza scooted all the way to third after stealing a base and getting another by way of Matt Wieters not being the catcher for Baltimore right now, but had his basestealing good fortune stretched too far when the Sox tried a two-out double steal with him an Adam Eaton. Beckham, who had homered in his last time up, was left standing at the plate when De Aza was thrown out at home.
Three-straight dinked singles in the fourth by the motley crew of Dayan Viciedo, De Aza and Tyler Flowers staked Quintana to a 3-0 lead--which stayed that way after they followed it up by blowing a bases loaded, no outs situation in the fifth--which looked untouchable as Quintana struck out the side in the fifth. From there on out, the Sox switched toward managing the level to which they were being outplayed.
The Orioles led off the bottom of the sixth with a Steve Pearce home run and an Adam Jones double, before Quintana dialed up two more up of his eight punchouts on the night, and they had runners on first and second in the seventh before a Nick Markakis double play ended their threat.
The always necessary White Sox insurance run came when Alexei Ramirez raced home and beat the tag on a fielder's choice in the eighth. Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph admitted hesitance about the collision rule prevented him from being more aggressive on the play. The Sox are not in a position to forfeit a run for a principled stand about the future of legislating the game.
Team Record: 36-42
Next Game: Friday at 6:05 p.m. CT at Baltimore on CSN
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