The White Sox’ glimmer of hope of finishing .500 was snuffed out Thursday with a 5-3, rain-delayed loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, who halted their losing streak at six, salvaged the fourth game of their series and stopped the Sox winning streak at five.
The Sox needed to close out the season with a win over the Rays and a weekend series sweep over the Minnesota Twins to avoid a fourth straight losing season. Jose Quintana did his share, holding the Rays to two runs over six innings and striking out seven. The All-Star lefty finished his fourth straight season with 200 or more innings with career highs in innings (208), strikeouts (181), WHIP (1.16) and opponents average (.246).
Quintana, like ace Chris Sale, have heard their names mentioned in trade speculation as the offseason approaches.
“I don’t have control about that. I don’t know anything about trades,’’ Quintana said. “I’m here as a Chicago White Sox, and I want to be here for a long time. I’ll go home, rest and get going to be ready to start with my preparation for next year. I’ll be ready for that.’’
Manager Robin Ventura said Quintana, who finished with a 13-12 record and 3.20 ERA, “elevated himself into that elite status with a lot of guys in the league” this season.
Rays right-hander Chris Archer (9-19) avoided becoming the majors’ first 20-game loser since 2003.
Sale to start finale
Chris Sale will start the season finale Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, manager Robin Ventura said Thursday. Not to boost his numbers, which as they stand right now present a good case to Cy Young voters, but simply because he wants to pitch.
The result will have few implications for the Sox, who needed to turn their five-game winning streak into a season-ending nine-game tear to finish with a .500 record.
“He doesn’t necessarily have to throw,’’ Ventura said, “but he wants to and that’s a good sign. He’s motivated to throw and just go do it. That’s his commitment to being a teammate and all that stuff.’’
With occasional exceptions in September, Ventura has played his best lineups in a determined effort to win as many games as he can even though the Sox have been out of playoff contention for some time.
If this is Ventura’s final week as Sox manager, he can safely say his team played hard for him, even to the end. Count Sale, who has had his clashes with Ventura over the years, among that group
“It would be very easy for him to just he’s had enough and not pitch,’’ Ventura said. “That’s a good testament to finishing out the year and doing it right.’’
At 221 2/3 innings, Sale has already passed his career high by seven. He won’t be held to five but he won’t pitch nine, Ventura said.
“Well, if he has a no-hitter, it’s a possibility,’’ Ventura said.
Sale (17-9, 3.21) is trying to become the fourth Sox to win a Cy Young, joining Jack McDowell (1993), LaMarr Hoyt (1983) and Early Wynn (1959). He ranks among AL pitching leaders in fWAR (first, 5.3), WHIP (third, 1.03), strikeouts (third, 227) and opponents average (fourth, .225) and wins (fourth). His ERA was tied for eighth with Thursday starter Jose Quintana.
Saladino’s season over
Concern for infielder Tyler Saladino, who hasn’t played since July 21 because of a back problem, was heightened somewhat when Ventura confirmed his season is over, even though there were only four games left. It’s If Brett Lawrie, who hasn’t played since Sept. 21 because of injuries, is not tendered a contract in the offseason, a door for Saladino to be a starting second baseman. At the least, he would be a valuable utility infielder.
Saladino dealt with a sore back in April but bounced back, but not this time. Ventura wasn’t specific or detailed about the injury. Back problems are worrisome when they linger, and the Sox are hoping Saladino can get well and be at 100 percent by spring training.
“His back hasn’t necessarily responded as well as we’d like,’’ Ventura said. “He definitely would have been a DL if it were during the year. We’ve got to figure out a way to get him right before he heads home.’’
Sanchez stays hot
Second baseman Carlos Sanchez, who is getting regular time with Saladino hurt, hit his fourth homer of the month and is batting .313 with six doubles and 17 RBI in September.
Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier went into Thursday’s game against the Rays with a team-high 98 RBI each, a career high for Frazier – who hit his career-high 40th homer in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory.
The last group of Sox teammates to record 100 RBI was Jermaine Dye (120), Paul Konerko (113) and Jim Thome (109) in 2006.