Quintana gets first win as White Sox blank Jays
Left-hander logs seven strikeouts, benefits from Flowers' home run
TORONTO -- The rest of the league is starting to find out what the White Sox already know -- their No. 5 starter is only at the back of the rotation by default.
Jose Quintana, a pitcher manager Robin Ventura considers anything but a back-end arm, was dominating for his second consecutive start and helped the Sox breeze past the Blue Jays in an easy 7-0 victory on Wednesday evening.
The lefty tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, while the bats delivered with a couple big blows to lead Chicago to its largest margin of victory this season in front of 15,684 fans at Rogers Centre.
"He's not really one of those," Ventura said, referring to Quintana being labeled the team's No. 5 arm. "He's just a tough kid that has a lot of ability. He had it in Cleveland, but I also think it's his mental makeup."
Quintana had his way with Toronto's offense, one start after throwing seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Indians in a no-decision.
This time, Quintana got his first win of the season, as relievers Jesse Crain and Donnie Veal combined for 2 1/3 scoreless frames to preserve the victory. He has now gone 13 2/3 innings without allowing a run, while surrendering just six hits to go along with 14 punchouts over that stretch.
Quintana mixed his pitches well, attacking Toronto hitters with fastballs, changeups and some sharp breaking balls. It was a well-spotted heater, though, that allowed him to flourish.
"I felt very good with the command of my fastball since the first inning," Quintana said through interpreter Lino Diaz. "The command of my fastball allowed me to do everything else."
After retiring eight straight batters to start the game, Quintana ran into a little trouble by surrendering back-to-back two-out singles in the third. But he worked out of it by getting the best of Melky Cabrera in a six-pitch battle that ended with the Blue Jays left fielder swinging through a 93-mph fastball.
It was smooth sailing from there for Quintana, who worked with a lead for the majority of the game. Quintana allowed five hits and struck out seven batters, including Colby Rasmus three times, while issuing two free passes. The 24-year-old lefty threw 72 of his season-high 104 pitches for strikes.
"A lot of credit to him, he has really been doing his homework," catcher Tyler Flowers said. "We've been communicating a little more at what he wants to do. He pretty much executed everything he wanted to. We were trying to establish a fastball early.
"He threw the ball very well."
Quintana had a comfortable lead to work with starting in the second inning, thanks to Flowers, his batterymate.
Ventura mentioned before the game that Flowers was working on a new stance at the plate and opening up his body more. It paid off his first at-bat.
Flowers hit a 1-2 pitch from Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ over the fence in right-center field for a three-run homer, his third of the year, to give the White Sox an early lead.
"Obviously, it's nice to have some good at-bats today to kind of solidify that this seems to be a good direction," said Flowers, who had a pair of hits.
The White Sox added another one in the fourth on a two-out RBI double by Alexei Ramirez that plated Paul Konerko, who started off the frame with a double of his own to extend his hitting streak to nine games.
Alex Rios jumped in on the fun in the sixth inning and got the last laugh against his former team after getting jeered on his way to the plate, as he has all series. Rios laced a solo shot, his fifth homer of the year, to left-center field to put Chicago in front, 5-0.
The right fielder dismissed the boos and said questions regarding them are getting old, but Ventura remains perplexed by it all.
"I don't quite understand it, but they paid for the ticket so they can do whatever they want, I guess," Ventura said. "I find it odd -- they let him go, it's not like he demanded anything."
Chicago claimed Rios, who has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games dating to last season, off waivers from the Blue Jays in August 2009.
Happ only lasted three more batters and was yanked after surrendering a two-out single to Dayan Viciedo, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored. The left-hander went 5 2/3 innings, allowed five runs on six hits while walking one and striking out three.
"Their pitcher was really good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We were chasing that ball up, a lot of popups and things like that. And they came right at Happ, the big blow and home run early."
It was only Chicago's second game this season that has been decided by more than three runs.
"We don't have those very often." Ventura said with a smile.
The White Sox will send ace lefty Chris Sale to the mound on Thursday looking for the series victory.