NEW YORK – At this rate, it will happen for Jose Quintana. And if it does, the happiest 24 people in the world will be the White Sox left-hander’s teammates.
Chris Sale has talked to Quintana, the other half of the Sox’ formidable one-two left-hand punch, about what it’s like to participate in the All-Star Game.
“It would be cool to see him go,’’ said Sale, who has been there four times.
“It’s hectic and there’s a lot going on in a short period of time but it’s an experience to share with your friends and family you never thought you’d be able to do.’’
The way Quintana is pitching – he held an opponent to two runs or less for the eighth time in as many outings in the White Sox’ 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees Saturday – he will be a lock to make his first appearance at the midsummer classic. His 1.54 ERA is second only to Detroit Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (1.50) and thanks to ample run support (but not at Yankee Stadium Saturday) for the first time in his career, he owns a nice 5-2 record. Since late July, he is 10-3 with a 2.27 ERA over 21 starts.
Quintana had one off inning Saturday, the second, when a two-out walk to Chase Headley preceded Aaron Hicks’ RBI double and Didi Gregorius’ RBI single.
“The base on balls against Headley changed the ballgame for me,” Quintana said. “I missed a couple of pitches against Hicks and that was it. Tough game.”
After that, he retired 15 of 18 Yankees, finishing with two runs allowed on five hits and two walks while striking out five.
“He had one inning that ends up tripping him up, but he’s sharp as usual,” manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s just what you expect out of him.”
Teammates have come to expect excellence and class from the Colombian native who posted ERAs of 3.51, 3.32 and 3.36 in three tough luck 200-inning seasons before this one. Poor run support held him to nine wins in each of those years but he “never complained or pointed fingers,” Ventura said.
The bad luck trend seems to be turning in his favor. Saturday’s loss snapped a four-game winning streak, the first of his career.
“[Carlos] Rodon and I were saying the other day,” said Sale (8-0, 1.67), who looks like he’s headed for a fifth All-Star appearance, “that if you’re going to teach someone from scratch how to pitch, you would take a lot of what Jose does. He has really good rhythm, great tempo, good arm action, good mechanics. He kind of flows it, and the ball is jumping out of his hand a lot better this year. He’s throwing 2 or 3 mph harder and his curve ball has gone to that next level. It’s a little bit harder, a little sharper.’’
Yankees pitchers were sharp, too, holding the Sox to five hits. Todd Frazier’s team-high 12th homer to left against Ivan Nova (2-1) in the fourth was the only run for the Sox (24-13). Brett Lawrie doubled off the left field wall near the 399-foot sign two batters later, but that was all the Sox could muster against Nova before Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman (second save).
Betances struck out all four batters he faced and Miller and Chapman each struck out two. Frazier battled but struck out against Chapman, his former Cincinnati Reds teammate, in the ninth. Pinch hitter Jerry Sands, batting for Melky Cabrera – “rolling the dice” as Ventura put it — also struck out before Lawrie flied to left to end the game.
“They did their job,” Frazier said. “They dominated and sometimes it’s going to happen. It’ll probably happen some more. They’ve got three bulldogs coming in, we’ve got to find a way, any which way, one way or another.”
Quintana now leads baseball in starts with two earned runs allowed or less, snapping a tie with the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw (seven starts). That’s the stuff all-stars are made of, although it’s a bit premature to start that discussion, he said.
“That’s a dream for any pitcher to make the All-Stars,” Quintana said. “But it’s too early to talk about that. “You have to have a really good year, but my focus is on the team right now and trying to win games.”