Jose Quintana brought some ‘tude’ to the ballpark Wednesday, Avisail Garcia brought his red-hot bat and the White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the struggling Royals with a 5-2 win for their fourth victory in a row.
It was the first win of the season for Quintana, who was the first Sox pitcher to make three straight starts of at least five innings with zero run support since 1967. Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier gave him two-out, back-to-back RBI doubles against right-hander Nate Karns in the first first, and Garcia broke a tie with a 437-foot homer to center, his fourth of the season, in the sixth.
He told me, ‘That’s for you,’ ” a beaming Quintana (1-4) said after striking out 10 over six innings of two-run (one earned) ball.
Quintana has been a poster child for pitching consistently well through poor run support throughout his career but with trade rumors swirling around him throughout the offseason and spring training, he hadn’t been at his best in his first four starts. He entered with a 6.17 ERA.
The All-Star lefty was determined to keep the somewhat surprising Sox on a roll, and they claimed their fourth straight victory to improve to 11-9, which has the rebuilding Sox sitting in a three-way tie atop the AL Central standings.
“I saw it in his face,’’ third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He had some look about him, getting mad at me because I didn’t get the ball back to him in time. I love that stuff.
“I’ll definitely make sure I get it to him quicker from now on. He had a mentality about him, you know, put fear in some hitters eyes.’’
The Royals, losers of eight straight, haven’t put much fear into anyone lately, but the Sox did what they needed to keep them down.
“Yeah, it was a mission,’’ Quintana said. “Everybody was doing his job. I needed this outing. It was extra motivation to win my first one. … I threw the ball well.’’
“The thing today was he commanded both sides of the plate,’’ catcher Geovany Soto said. “Both sides with breaking pitches and elevating hitters eye levels with [fastballs].’’
Manager Rick Renteria told Quintana after his sixth inning, when he was at 99 pitches, that he would give in to the lefty’s wishes and let him pitch the seventh if the game was tied because Renteria wanted him to have a chance for the decision. When Garcia put the Sox in front, Renteria turned it over to relievers Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Nate Jones and David Robertson, who combined for three scoreless innings.
“The epitome of a solid bullpen,’’ Renteria said. “They’ve been excellent.’’
Jennings extended his scoreless streak to six appearances and Robertson collected his fifth save and 76th as a Sox, passing Terry Forster for sixth all time.
“To sweep these guys early in the season, that’s really important for us,’’ Quintana said.
Garcia, who is batting .373 with 17 RBI, also made a good charging catch and almost turned it into a double play. No. 9 hitter Leury Garcia, who had three hits in each of the previous two games, homered in the seventh for a fifth run.
What’s going on here? The Sox, in a rebuild, are pitching and playing well with what they have.
“Everybody is focused and prepared,’’ Frazier said. “The little things, guys getting here earlier, wanting to get out there and take extra work, and the determination that we’ve got going right now is pretty nice.’’
The Sox are running everything out and playing a mostly clean brand of ball.
And having fun.
“That’s it, like little kids,’’ Frazier said. “You see us before the games. Everybody’s got a handshake, everybody’s got a little thing going with each other. Win, lose or draw, we’re going to give 100 percent. We know we’ve got Rick Renteria coming in here telling us ‘Nobody’s feeling sorry for you. So pick yourself up. We’re White Sox.’ That’s what we’re going on right now.”
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