Jose Quintana won’t tie the all-time mark for no decisions this season.
He earned the victory on Tuesday night as the White Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Quintana has already established an American League record with 17 no decisions and leads the majors. But his chance to tie Bert Blyleven’s all-time mark of 20 established in 1979 was wiped out when the White Sox rewarded Quintana for a hard-fought six innings against Minnesota. Quintana, who appears to be in line for two more starts, improved to 8-6 after he stranded nine of the 10 runners he allowed to reach base.
Had another victory been taken away, which very nearly happened one inning after his exit, Quintana wouldn’t have let on were he disappointed. That aspect of his game has thoroughly impressed teammate Paul Konerko, who has seen enough to be convinced. In his first 53 starts, Quintana has 27 no decisions, including six when he pitched at least seven shutout innings.
“It’s his best thing going,” Konerko said. “Everybody in here always talks about it. He’s just very composed during the game, after the game. You can’t really tell. Rarely do you ever see him even change facial expression. He’s very poised.”
Quintana needed every ounce of poise to escape several jams.
The left-hander stranded runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings, a total of eight runners. He lowered his ERA to 3.49 and struck out five batters.
The White Sox coaching staff figures Quintana (6-6 in 2012) could have a dozen more victories. Quintana -- who had seven straight no decisions from June 1-July 4 -- is 14-12 even though he has a career ERA of 3.60.
“Everybody wants their decision, whether it’s a win or a loss,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s part of playing is that you want something out of it. He’s been pretty steady as far as his personality and everything else that goes with having so many games without an immediate result for him. You can win or lose games, but when it’s not on your record it becomes something that he’s been able to deal with fairly well. He just goes about his business. He’s a mature kid.”
He’s also a confident kid.
Last season, when he couldn’t command pitches away to most hitters, Quintana didn’t hesitate to pitch inside in critical spots to get out of trouble. Over the winter, Quintana worked hard to improve command away and he’s seen impressive results.
Quintana, who has an outside shot at 200 innings this season, has lowered his WHIP ratio from 1.35 to 1.24 while increasing his strikeouts per nine innings from 5.3 to 7.5.
Once a temporary rotation fill-in, Quintana is a fixture in the White Sox plans. Konerko said the way Quintana trusts his stuff is similar to Mark Buehrle.
“He doesn’t really second guess his stuff or what the catcher calls,” Konerko said. “He just kind of throws it and has good games. When he has bad ones I don’t think he puts too much life into it, he just comes back for the next one and figures if he’s hits the glove it’ll work out. … (Opponents) always just rave how good his stuff is number one, but he just doesn’t give you anything. He doesn’t really show anything out there, which is a good thing.”
The White Sox bullpen and defense nearly gave away a 4-1 lead after Quintana exited.
Reliever Jake Petricka, who left the game after he was struck on the left wrist by a line drive, walked a batter and allowed two hits, the second by Trevor Plouffe bringing in a run. A Gordon Beckham throwing error on a double play allowed a second run to score and make it 4-3. But Matt Lindstrom struck out Josh Willingham and retired Josmil Pinto on a grounder to retain the lead.
Nate Jones and Addison Reed each followed with a scoreless tie to preserve the victory.
“I feel great,” Quintana said. “I’m in good hands with the bullpen. It’s a pretty good bullpen and when (Reed) came in I felt really good.”
Marcus Semien gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an RBI single. The White Sox regained the lead in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Alexei Ramirez and one of two RBIs singles by Dayan Viciedo.