TCS Morning 10: Jose Quintana is better than the stupid rain, J2 is coming

1. Of all the getaway day games that are scheduled at unwatchable hours on Wednesday afternoons, this was the primetime matchup that had to pursued, and with the Sox not scheduled to return to St. Louis anytime soon and already planning a loaded second half of makeup dates, MLB was willing to sweat out something like, oh, a start delayed by two hours, two early stints that barely made it through entire half innings before new delays kicked off, and ending well after midnight local time.

Arms were slagged and Robin Ventura wasn't even around to take the blame. Directly, at least.

2. I didn't think we'd get a virtuoso Jose Quintana performance after he was interrupted twice mid-start by rain delays, and really we didn't. We got Jose Quintana is a relentless competitor start. His signature pitch of the night was an 88-mph fastball down the pipe to blow away Randal Grichuk to hold a runner on third to nurse a 2-1 lead in the sixth. That situation came after an Adam Eaton misplay gave Mark Reynolds his first triple in years, innings after Melky Cabrera had flopped around like a dolphin on dry land trying to run down a flare from Jhonny Peralta in the third, and after he started the game with a slow relay due to wet grass costing him a run.

Quintana spent so much of the night pitching over stuff that it wasn't until he was pulled after six innings that I noticed he had struck out eight and made no real significant mistakes. He actually got a win for his trouble, as a five-run ninth saved him from his standard-issue no decision. He's been so underwhelming to the greatness we've wanted for him all year that it's only right that he reminds that his greatest skill is turn a bad hand into a good night.

3. Seven runs, especially seven runs against the Cardinals, is a veritable breakthrough for the Sox offense. The decisive blows were largely home runs from Melky Cabrera and Tyler Flowers (the latter of which Alexei Ramirez actually got on base in front of), and the Sox have been way too power-starved to spit at such production, but the big crooked number came thanks to a Cardinals defensive and bullpen collapse that they wouldn't shake out of even when the Sox offered. Credit to Adam LaRoche and Adam Eaton for just standing there and letting themselves get nailed by a hilariously wild Randy Choate, but the Sox last two runs of the night came on tappers that St. Louis refused to field. Kolten Wong bobbled a Cabrera grounder that could have turned two, and when Avisail followed it with a tapper of his own, the Cards caught Adam Eaton in a rundown only for Matt Carpenter to miss a feed to him at third and let the ball skip into left field. 

It was kind of like the game was being played at an absurdly late hour after multiple interruptions on a wet field. Real sharpness comes without effort, and it was some sad, doomed efforting out there Wednesday night.

4. A three-homer barrage from Flowers over the past week means his slugging percentage is at .391, right around where he finished last season when everyone was ok about having him being the returning starter. He needs his BABIP magic to come back and is still getting out-hit by Geovany Soto, but is playing his way back into a PT split rather than just ceding the position. The White Sox are now ninth in the AL in wRC+ from the catcher's position, which is not good, but pretty much what we all would have accepted given the talent and resources invested.

5. Let's pick the endpoint that will give us the burliest recent figure for Melky Cabrera's production: Last 21 games he's got a .321/.379/.487 line. There's batted ball luck, but more importantly there's extra-base hits. Five doubles, a triple and two home runs after he lifted a ball into the right field bullpen Wednesday night for the go-ahead blow. That's eight extra-base hits after five in his first 52 games. What concerns me is that he's on a verifiable hot streak right now, and even that only shows him with average-ish power production. The ball just isn't jumping off his bat, he's getting hits because he's on a hot stretch of barreling things up. His career history suggests that is something he can maintain, but it's not like the first two months of deathrot was useless data. Something went wrong, and when you're over 30, it's more likely a harbinger of things to come than a developmental blip.

6. It would be nice if Avisail had arrested his death slide before getting below league average. The All-Star Game push for a lumbering corner outfielder slugging under .400 is sort of a weird feel, you know? Garcia reached base three times Wednesday night, but hit .181/.250/.298 with 30 strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. Batted ball luck abandoned him, his approach is nuts and he doesn't generate enough power to carry him through such stretches. I have felt better about other prospects.

His lead on the rest of the MLB in swing rate has shrunk a bit, but his closest followers are Adam Jones, Pablo Sandoval and Nolan Arenado, who are clearly a lot better at this hacking thing than he is.

7. Chris Sale might get pushed off his Sunday start for the sake of getting him extra rest. The Sox are insisting it's a precaution and not prompted by any calls of soreness. I suppose it's plausible enough; you wind up going pretty deep into games when you're just vaporizing every human you encounter. The irony is that the working plan seems to be push Carlos Rodon into the Sunday start, the guy who was originally promised a lower workload and many skipped starts.

8. Here is the full two-minute highlight of Chris Sale striking out 12 Cardinals Tuesday night. You know you'd rather just think about that than anything else.

9. It's July 2.

Today is the first day of international free agent signings. Hopefully the Sox are competitive and/or something other than financially guarded. A modest J2 showing justified by the cost outlays made for this MLB roster would not leave a good taste, especially since the Jerry Reinsdorf was so instrumental in dragging the league down to the current draconian spending limits.

@FutureSox would probably a very good follow today.

10. Well, that was fast.