MINNEAPOLIS -- Yohan or Johan, it doesn’t really matter when the White Sox are facing the Minnesota Twins.
Twins rookie pitcher Yohan Pino stifled the White Sox in his major league debut on Thursday night and his team rallied for two late runs in a 4-2 win over the White Sox at Target Field. The 30-year-old journeyman earned a no decision but pitched well enough to keep Jose Quintana from a win in a strong rebound effort after a couple of poor starts. Pino allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings and Minnesota scored twice in the eighth against White Sox reliever Jake Petricka to win the opener of a four-game series.
Joe Mauer’s RBI double off Petricka broke open a game that had been tied since the third inning. Kurt Suzuki also had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“He’s just as frustrated as anybody else, but he just continues to pitch,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said about Quintana, who earned his 32nd career no decision. “I don’t think he sits there and begs for runs. But I’m sure he’d like some runs.”
Runs were at a premium against Pino, who had an 83-56 mark with a 3.74 ERA in 292 games (153 starts) over 10 minor-league seasons while pitching in four different farm systems, including two tours with Minnesota.
But Pino, who also spent time with Cleveland, Toronto and Cincinnati, didn’t look one bit nervous as he faced a team that produced 15 runs in its previous two games.
Even after his start was delayed by rain for 2 hours, 6 minutes, Pino struck out three of the first four batters he faced, including White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.
Pino gave up a pair of runs in his second time through the lineup on a two-run single by Conor Gillaspie with one out in the third inning. But Gordon Beckham was thrown out on the play after he rounded second base and Pino struck out Abreu again to keep the score tied at 2.
Then Pino settled down again, retiring 13 of the last 14 batters he faced. He used a nice changeup and slider along with a decent fastball to get a bunch of quick outs. Similar to how Johan Santana used to dominate the White Sox (he was 13-6 against them lifetime), Pino also struck out his fair share as he finished with seven and only one walk. He threw strikes on 28 of 41 sliders and changeups.
Pino matched Quintana step for step as he and relievers Casey Fien and Glen Perkins retired 19 of the last 21 White Sox batters.
“We didn’t know anything about the guy,” Gillapsie said. “Give him credit, he pitched pretty well. Anybody that’s got a changeup has got an advantage. He did a good job today. We’ll have to get them tomorrow. It was a long day.”
Quintana has had plenty of long games end in disappointment after his team has failed to support him.
While he allowed some loud contact, Quintana managed to navigate his way through a Twins lineup that used a nice opposite-field approach against him.
Of the six hits Quintana gave up, five went for extra bases.
But Quintana mostly spread out the damage after some rough early innings.
He gave up a run in the second inning on a monster solo home run by Josh Willingham and another in the third on Joe Mauer’s two-out RBI single. But he got Willingham to fly out to deep center to end the third inning and found a rhythm. Quintana pitched around two-out doubles in the fourth and fifth innings and set down the last seven batters he faced.
The left-hander allowed two earned runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out six. The result was a departure from Quintana’s previous two starts when he allowed 10 earned runs over 10 1/3 innings and his ERA ballooned from 3.31 to 3.98.
“I (tried) to throw more strikes,” Quintana said. “That gives me an opportunity for a longer game for me. I think I throw really good pitches tonight.
“I say the same every time, I don’t have control about (run support). But one time that can change for me. But tonight I feel bad for my team not winning. Just keep going next win.”