By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The White Sox sweep of of the Royals was completed with a solid performance by left-hander Jose Quintana in a 5-2 win at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Quintana struck out seven of the first 10 batters he faced en route to his first win of 2017. He went six innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out 10. As he improved to 1-4 and the White Sox (11-9) won their fourth straight game, Quintana reached double-digit strikeouts for the eighth time in his career.
Quintana — who is third in quality starts in baseball since 2012 — had two poor outings and had twice received poor run support in losing his first four starts of the season.
“I saw something different in his face today,” said third baseman Todd Frazier, who drove in who drove a run with an RBI double in the first inning. “He was getting mad at me because I wasn’t getting him the ball back right away. I love that stuff. He had some mentality about him. He put some fear in hitters’ eyes.”
Eight scouts were in the stands watching Quintana at his best Wednesday. An error by first baseman Jose Abreu cost Quintana an unearned run in the fifth. Abreu incurred a mild right hip flexor on the play while moving to his left to field a groundball and soon left the game. His status was listed as day to day.
Abreu pointed to his upper groin area in explaining where the pain was.
“I will play in the first game in Detriot,” Abreu said through translator Billy Russo and in reference to Friday’s game after an off day. “I didn’t want to leave the field. He is the boss (manager Rick Renteria and the trainers). They made the decision, and you have to accept it.”
After the Royals tied the game in the top of the sixth inning at 2-2, White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia hit a two-run homer in the bottom half to allow Quintana to leave with the lead and nab the eventual victory. Garcia has a team-best 18 RBIs.
Like Abreu, Quintana lobbied to stay in the game longer.
“I told him I wanted to stay in the game,” Quintana said about a conversation he had with Renteria in the sixth inning. “He said if we take the lead, you’re out. If we are tied, you are back. Every time I am in the game, I want to stay.”
Quintana has been professional while being at the center of continued trade speculation. And for the most part, he appears unaffected by the rumor mill that’s linked him to a handful of teams.
“He is very consistent,” Renteria said of Quintana. “He is very even-keeled. His preparation is always the same. He works hard with (pitching coach Don Cooper) and all of our pitching coaches. His goal is to make sure he is on track to make his next start and be as effective as he possibly can be.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.