BALTIMORE — The refreshing April air in the White Sox’ balloon is starting to leak in May. A 4-0 loss Sunday, the concluding blow of a three-game sweep by the Orioles, marked the Sox’ sixth loss in their last eight games.
More dispiriting was that it came as ace Jose Quintana, excellent in his previous two starts, retreated with a messy performance, allowing four runs in five innings.
Quintana (2-5, 4.46 ERA), considered the hottest trade commodity during spring training, got out-pitched by Chris Tillman and ensured a sour finish to a 4-6 trip that began with two wins against the Tigers and a four-game split with the Royals.
Three Quintana walks in the first two innings, bloop singles within inches of each foul line and a couple of debated ball-strike calls was more than manager Rick Renteria could stomach in one afternoon.
Renteria, who shouted from the dugout after a strike-two call to Avisail Garcia in the third inning, earned his first ejection of the season (not counting his rare Cactus League heave-ho) from plate umpire Paul Emmel.
“He ejected me, and that’s all I can say,” Renteria said. “They were able to minimize damage with their pitching, and we need to play cleaner baseball. I think we have for the most part all season.’’
But not Sunday, and the first inning set the tone. Tillman, making his season debut after missing spring training with bursitis in his right shoulder, walked Melky Cabrera and Leury Garcia on nine pitches to start the game. But Jose Abreu, one of the game’s hottest hitters of late, helped Tillman by swinging at ball four and popped out.
After Avisail Garcia reached on a fielder’s choice as Leury Garcia beat third baseman Manny Machado’s attempted force at second, Todd Frazier lined out and Cody Asche grounded out softly to first, letting Tillman off the hook.
Quintana walked two of the first three batters, and a bobble by shortstop Tyler Saladino allowed Mark Trumbo to load the bases. The Orioles capitalized, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis and a single by Trey Mancini to make it 2-0 after the first.
“It was a battle the whole game — the first three innings especially,” Quintana said. “It was a tough day for me all day.”
And a tough series for the Sox.
The Orioles, who are 20-10 for the first time since 2005, completed their first three-game home sweep of the Sox in 18 years.
The Sox had eight hits total — including two by Frazier and three by Yolmer Sanchez — but couldn’t convert them into runs.
“It was the first bad series we’ve had,” Quintana said. “You turn the page and do what we were doing before. Everybody knows that. Be ready for the next series.”
That will begin Tuesday at home against the Twins.
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