Extra-inning walk-off wins pitchers' duel
Quintana tosses eight scoreless innings as Sox win set
Yet, the younger Quintana was not the only member of his family getting television time during this series finale.
With every big strikeout or inning-ending groundout the sensational rookie southpaw recorded, the television cameras would turn to Abel Quintana, Jose's father, who extended his trip from Colombia by one day in order to see his son pitch. Abel didn't see an individual victory, but he saw his son contribute to the White Sox's first series win since June 1-3 against Seattle and a move back atop the American League Central by one-half game.
Quintana was pleased with the victory for the White Sox (38-34), but it was something special to have his father in attendance.
"I'm really happy to have him out there, and he gave me more confidence," said Quintana through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "Knowing that he's there just made me want to do the best I could even more."
The eight scoreless innings thrown by Quintana against the Brewers (33-39) extended his streak of zeros to 16 straight innings. Milwaukee managed just six hits, as Quintana struck out four and didn't issue a walk over 101 pitches. He has now faced 97 consecutive batters without issuing a walk, the longest active streak in baseball, according to STATS, Inc.
"You know what? It actually makes me happy," said Quintana of his pinpoint control, which goes along with a miniscule 1.25 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. "I didn't even know that statistic. That shows the hard work that's being put in so each time I go out there, not thinking about statistics but just kind of going out there and giving the best I have."
"He's just dazzling," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Quintana. "He's done everything we have asked. He's a lot more mature than you would expect. It's tough taking him out of games like that."
When Quintana left after 77 pitches and eight scoreless innings last Sunday against the Dodgers, Addison Reed blew his only save in the ninth and Los Angeles rallied to win one inning later. On Sunday, Quintana left this scoreless battle with Milwaukee starter Michael Fiers, only to have the White Sox push across the game-winner in the 10th.
Alejandro De Aza opened the 10th with an opposite-field double to left off of Manny Parra (0-2) and stayed at second one out later when Adam Dunn walked. Escobar, who was pinch-hitting for Brent Lillibridge because Lillibridge had been included in the trade with Boston for Kevin Youkilis, ripped a 1-0 pitch to left scoring De Aza courtesy of his first walk-off hit.
"Once they called me in, I really wanted to make sure that I could contribute," said Escobar through Miranda. "You practice hard for that opportunity."
Fiers fanned seven and walked just one over 7 1/3 innings, before departing after Alexei Ramirez's leadoff single and De Aza's one-out double in the eighth. But Francisco Rodriguez struck out Gordon Beckham and Dunn to strand runners on second and third.
Defense was the early order of Sunday's series finale and no play was better than Alex Rios' effort with two outs in the fourth. Aramis Ramirez was on second after doubling, and Corey Hart launched a drive toward right that looked like a surefire two-run homer.
Rios made his way back, found the wall and then reached over the fence on his leap to take away the home run. As Rios made the play, he wasn't really even looking at the ball when it hit his mitt.
"That's the second time I've robbed somebody," Rios said. "I guess it was a pretty good catch."
"I love games like that, those close games where one run matters," Fiers said. "I just tried to keep battling and keep my team in the game."
Milwaukee had a prime chance to score in the seventh when Hart opened the frame with a double off the top of the left field wall. But Rickie Weeks turned in a poor piece of situational hitting with a ground ball to shortstop Alexei Ramirez that did not advance the runner. Martin Maldonado followed with a groundout to third baseman Orlando Hudson and Cody Ransom struck out for the third time in the game.
After that big strikeout, the WGN telecast showed Quintana's father cheering wildly for his son. Abel won't accompany Jose to New York to watch him face the Yankees, the team that previously gave up on him, but the elder Quintana will take home a great sense of pride and joy.
Even with injuries to John Danks and Philip Humber, Quintana's dominance made it possible for the White Sox to go after another prime bat in Youkilis instead of immediately adding another starter.
"To be honest, I'm enjoying it," Quintana said. "It's one of those where it's a good time and I'm just trying to help the team win."
"There's no doubt Quintana has shown to be a Major League pitcher and has shown the quality he brings to the table," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. "The great thing is we are getting a lot of quality pitching right now -- and we are not completely healthy -- so once we get healthy I think there's room offensively, and on our pitching staff, for this team to grow and it's exciting to watch."