Yet the Chicago White Sox's rotation keeps rolling right along, with left-hander Jose Quintana delivering the latest gem for a club that has disappointed in every department except when it comes to the starting staff.
Quintana took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday before three consecutive singles chased him from the game. Thanks to a pair of strikeouts from reliever Jesse Crain, Quintana finished the night with 7⅓ scoreless innings, while striking out five with two walks in his team’s 3-1 victory.
Catcher Tyler Flowers said it wasn’t that Quintana had great stuff Tuesday night, he just stuck to the game plan.
“I think he just did a good job of getting ahead of the hitters,” Flowers said. “Any pitcher that goes up there and gets ahead of the majority of the hitters is at an advantage. Hitters’ numbers drop drastically when they’re 0-1. So he just did a great job of doing that and executing everything after.”
It has been a theme for the White Sox’s starters over the past month or so. In the 30 games heading into play Tuesday, White Sox starting pitchers led the American League in ERA (2.96); opponents’ batting average (.216); opponents’ on-base percentage (.280); WHIP (1.09); and baserunners per nine innings (10.13).
“We know we have good pitching,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We just have to play good defense to help those guys and give us a chance. Offensively, it's starting to come together where you're getting a feeling you're going to put an inning together and later on you're going to put another inning together.
“As long as they grind and do that offensively, I want those pitchers to go out and not think they have to throw a shutout every night.”
Quintana was game for a shutout Tuesday, especially when he realized how well he was pitching.
“I noticed I had a no-hitter in the fifth inning but I tried not to think about it because all I wanted to do was get outs and keep the team ahead,” Quintana said through an interpreter.
His no-hit bid was broken up by David Ortiz on, of all things, a broken-bat bloop single to center field.
“As soon as they got a hit the first thing I thought of was, ‘I have to finish it off; I have to keep the score the way it is,’” Quintana said.
It turns out he struggled with the mental side of things more after his no-hitter was broken up than before it, as those three consecutive hits ended his night.
It ended up being the third time this season he hasn’t given up a run in a start and fifth time he has given up two earned runs or less.
“After every outing I look at something that didn’t work out and I work on it for the next outing,” Quintana said. “That along with the preparation for the next start has been the key.”
Friday could mark the season debut of Danks, making it an ideal time to reintroduce a starter who hasn’t been in a major league game for more than a year. With the other starters rolling, including strong outings from rotation replacements Dylan Axelrod and Hector Santiago, Danks can ease back into things knowing he has a rested bullpen behind him.
“I’m hoping to pick up where I left off and I hope to do more,” Danks said. “I know it’s expected of me to do more, and I accept it. But I won’t know anything until I get out there.”