Jose Quintana returns to old form; White Sox walk off with victory

SHARE Jose Quintana returns to old form; White Sox walk off with victory
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Jose Quintana pitches against the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 700011404

Left-hander Jose Quintana is back. For a night at least, so were the White Sox.

Quintana did what he could to stop the Sox’ four-game losing streak by pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday against the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field, continuing a streak of five strong starts in as many June outings after posting a 5.60 ERA in April and May.

And after the Yankees rallied for three runs against setup man Tommy Kahnle in the eighth, Jose Abreu delivered a two-run single against Dellin Betances with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth to give the Sox a 4-3 victory. The Sox had loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman.

The difference for Quintana? Hitting more corners, especially with his fastball, and a different grip that has increased his confidence and the effectiveness of his changeup.

‘‘I’m hitting my spots better,’’ said Quintana, who has a 1.78 ERA in June. ‘‘My confidence is high. And I turn the page and focus on the next one.’’

Before the game, Omar Narvaez, who caught Quintana’s two-run, seven-inning outing June 16 at Toronto, broke down Quintana’s resurgence in June a bit more.

‘‘He’s not cutting the ball over the middle [of the plate] anymore,’’ Narvaez said. ‘‘At the beginning of the season, he was cutting the ball a lot. But everything is going middle-away or middle-in now. That has helped him a lot. And you’re seeing the changeup coming back; that’s a huge difference. Now he’s hitting corners better, like he did last year.’’

Narvaez said that Quintana ‘‘basically does whatever he wants with the curveball’’ and that when he commands his changeup, the three-pitch mix puts him in much better position to compete.

‘‘He’s gaining more confidence with the changeup and throwing it more,’’ Narvaez said.

With Kevan Smith catching, Quintana allowed two hits, walked four and struck out six before leaving with a runner on and one out in the seventh. Anthony Swarzak preserved a 1-0 lead by getting Ronald Torreyes to ground into a double play, but Kahnle allowed an RBI single to Aaron Judge and a two-run double to Gary Sanchez to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the eighth and prevent Quintana from earning the victory.

Nonetheless, Quintana was sharp, a boon to his trade value that might have diminished during the first two months.

The theory that trade rumors, which have run rampant since the winter, affected Quintana gained steam when his performance waned in April and May. But general manager Rick Hahn, who will listen to offers for Quintana as he proceeds in the Sox’ rebuild, is saying publicly they haven’t.

‘‘I don’t think the things that have been written about him or speculated about him have had any impact,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘He’s the same guy in terms of how he goes about his business.’’

Manager Rick Renteria agreed, saying, ‘‘He’s more worried about making sure he executes pitches.’’ But Renteria acknowledged the trade buzz surrounding the team was a topic of discussion after the Sox’ 6-5 loss Monday.

‘‘Last night, we talked a little bit about it,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘We’re all White Sox. Till they’re not White Sox, they’re White Sox, so we have to continue doing what we do.’’

A celebratory pile on Abreu in the middle of the infield was a ‘‘special moment’’ for a 33-43 team that had lost seven of its last eight games, Abreu said.

‘‘We needed that moment,’’ he said through an interpreter. ‘‘I didn’t have a chance to celebrate because [Yolmer] Sanchez jumped all over me and all the other guys. But as a team, we needed that.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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