Quitana's sharp start lifts Sox in makeup game
Young southpaw continues to impress by pitching into eighth inning
CHICAGO -- In the present, the White Sox 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field was nothing more than a makeup game from a washed away contest on June 12 played by two long-ago eliminated non-contenders.
But take a bigger picture look at how this victory came about, and it gives the White Sox (62-94) something to smile about in the final week of a 2013 season full of gloom.
Jose Quintana (9-6) earned the win, allowing just one J.P. Arencibia home run and a Ryan Goins' run-scoring single over 7 1/3 innings. He fanned six and walked one, moving to 193 innings thrown for the season with one more start in Sunday's season finale against the Royals.
After bursting on the scene in 2012, Quintana not only backed up that strong rookie performance, but he surpassed it. The southpaw appears to be a strong No. 2 starter behind Chris Sale in the young but talented White Sox rotation.
"I don't think about that. I just want to do a good job and give the team a good opportunity to win," said Quintana through White Sox coach and translator Lino Diaz. "I take that as an opportunity every time I'm out there. As long as I can give the team an opportunity to win, that's all I can ask of myself."
"Quintana is good," said Toronto manager John Gibbons of the White Sox victorious hurler. "He mixes speeds, he moves in and around. He's got a quick arm, the ball gets on you. He's more explosive than the radar gun will show you. He's got a feel. You can just tell he knows what he's doing out there."
All three runs scored off of Toronto starter J.A. Happ (4-7) came via the long ball. The two home runs delivered by the White Sox came from contributors of the future and quite possibly standouts based on their final month's work.
Marcus Semien, who started at third base, launched his first career homer with one out in the second on a 0-2 pitch. Semien finished with two hits off Happ and helped cut short a Blue Jays' eighth-inning rally by making a nice defensive play on pinch-hitter Adam Lind's slow roller.
For good measure, Semien even showed off the speed element of his game with an infield single in the third.
"Any time you hit your first homer, it's a good feeling," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Semien's connection. "Any time you kind of get those zeroes out of the way that are in your column. It's a special night for a guy that's coming up, is trying to prove he can play at this level. To be able to hit a homer and swing the bat the way he has is good."
"It's a great feeling," said Semien of his homer. "I was really kind of nervous. Whenever you have a first-time anything in the big leagues, it's kind of a great feeling. I feel good about the way I've been playing. I try not to worry about making a case for myself or anything like that. I'm just focused on helping the team win."
Along with retrieving the baseball that he plans to bring to his mom's house, Semien got a big dugout hug from teammate Avisail Garcia after he put the White Sox on the board. It was Garcia who capped off the scoring with a solo shot in the fifth, going the opposite way for his sixth of the season and fourth with the White Sox.
Garcia joins Quintana as two of the young cornerstones of the White Sox reshaping process for 2014. Semien certainly has earned an extended look during 2014 Spring Training through his results and versatility since being called up.
"We've got a lot of young guys here, and a lot of them are playing," Semien said. "We're trying to finish strong here and see what happens."
"Moving forward, you're seeing which guys kind of fit in trying to turn it around and be a better team in the future," Ventura said. "Marcus is making a good case for himself that he can play at this level. He's not only swinging the bat, but even playing defense. He just seems like a baseball player. He's aware of what's going on."
Monday's winning decision leaves the White Sox just one victory away from avoiding a 100-loss season. Business picks up the rest of the week for the South Siders, with two in Cleveland and then four at home against the Royals.
This night in Chicago was a rain-induced stopover between a weekend in Detroit and a quick trip to face the Indians. It also produced Quintana's 17th quality start and second straight victory to go with his Major League-high 17 no-decisions, shining a bright future light for the American League Central's last-place team.
"Of course I'm very happy with the win," Quintana sad. "I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing. Keep working. And hopefully continue to help the team that way."