It was the most important start of Jose Quintana’s career in what was, quite possibly, the most important start of the season . The Chicago White Sox opened a four-game set with the Detroit Tigers Monday night and the rookie starter looked every bit a veteran.
After getting into a jam in early in the game, the Sox were down 1-0 with two men on, no outs, and heavy-hitting Miguel Cabrera was at the plate. Despite falling behind in the count, Quintana (6-4) induced a double play and then quickly struck out Prince Fielder to end the threat. While there were many moments that contributed to the victory, this one stands out. The momentum of the game shifted following this inning and Quintana went on to pitch 7 2/3, striking out 7, and giving up only the one run.
Even though his performance was stellar, defense alone can not win ball games. Detroit starter Rick Porcello shut down the White Sox until the sixth. Up until then, the Sox had missed out on some scoring opportunities and it was looking like a lack of clutch would lead to another low scoring game like Sunday’s. However, they weren’t counting on Detroit’s shaky defense. Dewayne Wise reached first on an error by Omar Infante. Wise’s presence on first allowed Paul Konerko’s softly hit grounder to roll into left field. With two men on, Alex Rios delivered the big swing of the evening when he launched a ball into the left field seats. Not one to be outdone, A.J. Pierzynski hit a home run to deep center just moments later. This 4-1 lead gave the Sox a comfortable cushion going into the late game. During the eighth inning, Gordon Beckham hit a two run shot of his own, giving the Sox some bonus insurance runs.
It is no secret how hot the Sox have been at home lately. The Sox have been 10-3 at home during their past two home stands and have been having healthy run production during that time period. The bats have knocked in 72 runs during that time period, averaging out to a competitive 5.5 runs per game. To maintain that average at home during this key series against Detroit would obviously be ideal.
With their win tonight, the Sox command a three game lead in the AL Central. The Sox need to continue this pressure in the next few days since the team that goes to the playoffs could essentially be decided in just a few short games.