A wide smile spread across Jose Quintana’s face, and he began his postgame comments with one word.
“Wow,” he said.
Anyone familiar with Quintana’s run-support plight should understand why theWhite Sox left-hander was so happy after a 4-1 victory over the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Quintana gave up one run over seven innings, and the Sox tacked on runs late to ensure he earned his first victory since May 8 against the Twins.
After starting the year 5-1, he improved to 6-8 as the Sox won their fourth straight series.
“I had a good reaction because (they scored) more runs,” Quintana said. “Sometimes I’ve been waiting for that. I try to do my job but I wait for support, and today the lineup made a good effort.”
Quintana gave up a solo homer to George Springer on his second pitch, but he allowed just one more hit and two walks. After Jason Castro doubled and Springer walked to open the third, Quintana worked his way out of the jam on his way to retiring 15 straight.
“This was as locked in as he’s been in a while,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He has always been the same mentally. Even as difficult as it’s been for him to get run support, he never wavers as far as his own confidence. He’s one of the better pitchers in the league.”
Quintana’s final out in the seventh was a strikeout of designated hitter Evan Gattis after plate umpire Ryan Blakney had warned him for throwing behind Gattis.
Astros reliever Chris Devenski had hit Jose Abreu with a pitch in the top of the seventh, prompting a lengthy glare from Abreu. After the game, Abreu sported a welt just below a tattoo of his son on his left arm.
“They hit my baby,” he joked, adding that he wasn’t sure if he was hit on purpose.
Quintana and Ventura both said Quintana missed inside on the pitch to Gattis. Astros manager A.J. Hinch was ejected for arguing, and Quintana got behind 3-0 in the count before coming back for the strikeout.
“I am very happy for him because he is such a fighter,” Abreu said through the team interpreter. “He comes every day to give us the best that he has. In the last outings, we weren’t able to support him and give him some runs. We did it today.”
The Sox scored two in the third off right-hander Collin McHugh on Adam Eaton’s RBI groundout and Abreu’s RBI single.
For the second straight day, Ventura used a catcher at designated hitter. Alex Avilawalked twice and led off the eighth with a single against Devenski to spark a two-run inning. Pinch runner Tyler Saladino stole second, and Brett Lawrie and Dioner Navarro hit RBI singles.
The Sox have won nine of 13 and improved to two games over .500 for the first time since June 4. They head into a six-game homestand against the Yankees and Braves before the All-Star break 71/2 games behind the Indians in the American League Central. But they’re also in a crowded wild-card race.
“We’re still in the hunt,” Ventura said. “We started out great, then we took a dump and now we’re back to playing better baseball.
“That second wild card does bring a different element to it. You have to play well. You can’t get too caught up in what has already happened. It’s where you’re going.”