The plan was to throw the Sox top-line starters headlong into a week of games against the last place Brewers and A's, and come out a lot closer to .500 ball and feeling like contenders. After the White Sox-mandated early hiccup, back-to-back virtuoso efforts by Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, and just enough offense have the Sox looking punchy once more. Maybe they're even confident that they won't get mysteriously mauled in Oakland. 14-17 buys a lot of flights of fancy.
The story pretty much starts and ends with Quintana, who also curiously saved his best performance of the season for a Brewers lineup missing Jonathan Lucroy in a National League park. Nevertheless, he owned the inner half of the plate, flashed a back-breaking sweeping curve, and continued on into his fourth season of pumping low-90's fastballs by people with surprising ease. He breezed through his first six innings nearly unscathed, powered up to pitch his way out of a seventh inning jam, and was only scored upon when he was inexplicably trotted out for the eighth inning with nearly 110 pitches and responded by giving up a leadoff triple.
A three-run first inning flurry off Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson provided most of the offense, but it was enough for a third-straight series win after David Robertson weathered a Carlos Gomez solo shot and shaky control in the ninth.
- Make that four-straight starts where Jose Quintana has allowed two runs or less, kept the ball in the yard and struck out five or more. We try our best not to underrate Quintana, but he's the one out of the big three who's clearly rolling again and it slipped in without the same notice Sale got. He now sports a not-too-shabby 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in 41 innings on the year.
- Avisail Garcia hit a truly preposterous home run in the first inning. He scooped down to reach a low and away fastball from Nelson and drilled a line drive off the front wall of the concourse in dead center in seemingly two seconds flat. Garcia's current approach of putting a bat on every single thing probably won't lead to much power, and probably won't be abandoned while he's hitting .322 (and collected two more hits tonight), but this guy could hit 25 bombs per year real easy if he wanted to. He might do it even if he doesn't care.
- Adam LaRoche's home run went even farther. That pair going off is a good way to hide Jose Abreu getting a night off.
- What a night for veteran stopgap infielders! Gordon Beckham started against the right-handed Nelson, doubled, scored and sucked up a couple of grounders at third that Gillaspie might have struggled with. Bonifacio's one single was of the infield variety--a hard smash up the middle that Scooter Gennett couldn't handle--to push home an insurance run in the seventh, he was part of the manufacturing effort to push Adam Eaton across in the first after his 12-pitch leadoff walk, and made a diving stab--dubbed by Hawks as 'the play of the game' to help Quintana escape the seventh unscathed. These are two low-ceiling middle infield slappers, but such are the struggles of Johnson and Gillaspie that grounding to the right side with a runner on second is exciting stuff.
- Robertson couldn't throw strike one to save his life and got taken yard by Carlos Gomez for his first home run allowed of the year. There's an off-day tomorrow, which is good news for him.
Next game is Friday in Oakland at 9:05pm CT on CSN