Flowers, Quintana help White Sox rout Blue Jays

Flowers, Quintana help White Sox rout Blue Jays
April 17, 2013, 8:45 pm
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TORONTO -- Tyler Flowers had a modest goal in mind for Wednesday’s game.

He just wanted to see the ball better in his plate appearances.

The White Sox catcher not only had better vision but he easily surpassed his biggest objective as his early three-run home run gave Jose Quintana ample support and the White Sox rolled to a 7-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 15,684 at Rogers Centre. Quintana earned the victory with 6 2/3 shutout innings and the White Sox, who finished with 11 hits, earned their first shutout here since June 2007.

“I didn’t feel fooled on pitches, which was good,” Flowers said. “It just felt a little more smooth, like I had a little more freedom, a little more kind of swagger, looseness feeling on all my swings today. It felt very good.”

Flowers’ confidence was evident from the outset.

Mired in a 2-for-30 slump in which he admits he sometimes felt fooled at the plate, Flowers spent his off-day Tuesday in the cage working on a more open batting stance in hopes of better vision.

With two on and two out in a scoreless game, Flowers took a close 1-1 fastball for a ball before he deposited J.A. Happ’s next offering into the stands in right-center to give the Sox a 3-0 lead.

“Coming through like that was big for him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You go through a stretch like that and it’s not necessarily trying to get a hit but help your team win. And when you hit a home run like that, it’s a big relief because you know you’re helping out.”

At that point, Quintana (2-1) had already established fastball command. So Flowers’ 421-foot homer only further cemented in the young pitcher’s mind that he was in for a good evening.

Quintana attacked the strike zone with his fastball and got ahead of Blue Jays hitters with strikes on 72 of 104 pitches.

“(Fastball command) allowed me to expand a little bit and use the other pitches as well, mix them in,” Quintana said. “The command of the fastball allowed me to do everything else.”

Quintana rarely found trouble as he worked with the lead and made big pitches when he did to keep the White Sox in front. The left-hander, who retired the first eight men he faced, struck out Melky Cabrera to end the third inning with men on first and second. Quintana also escaped a fifth-inning jam when Cabrera grounded out with runners on second and third.

Quintana allowed only five hits and walked two while he struck out seven.

“That’s what good pitchers do, get out of situations,” Ventura said. “That’s part of the stuff we always like about him. He’s tough and resilient. He’s able to bounce back and get out of those things.”

After they have endured what Adam Dunn described Tuesday as the “road trip from hell,” White Sox hitters have shown some resiliency of their own the last two games.

Alexi Ramirez, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, doubled in Paul Konerko with two outs in the fourth inning to go ahead 4-0. Alex Rios then crushed a 438-foot solo homer in the sixth inning, his fifth.

And the White Sox added two more runs on seventh-inning sacrifice flies by Jeff Keppinger and Konerko.

Flowers scored one of those seventh-inning runs after he singled. He finished 2-for-4. Although he hoped for good results, Flowers said he would have been satisfied with good at-bats.

He just happened to have both.

“Swinging at good pitches, I had good at-bats, is really what you’re going for there,” Flowers said. “Obviously it was nice to have some to kind of results to solidify that this seems to be a good direction.”