CHICAGO | The old catchers’ textbook was flung open Sunday in the White Sox’s 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Tyler Flowers, adjusting to a reduction in playing time with 2006 Indiana Mr. Baseball Josh Phegley’s arrival, was key to his struggling team’s second win in a row in spite of striking out all three times at bat.
In the second and third innings, Flowers guided lefty Jose Quintana through bases-loaded minefields, the first with none out, giving up no runs in the process.
Later, he slowed Quintana down as he battled a cramp in his calf. The nine hits and three walks Quintana gave up resulted in just one run. Flowers then handled four Sox relievers – who collectively yielded one baserunner – to the finish line.
“Games like today, on a personal level, they’re a lot of fun,” Flowers said. “They’re also a lot of headache because you want to contribute something at the plate. But again it goes back to the more important thing to help the pitcher on the field and help the team win.
“If that’s how it goes every time I’m out there catching, I’ll take that – giving up one run, winning the game. Not strike out every time. If we’re going to win, it really doesn’t matter.”
In addition to calling the right pitches at the right time, Flowers was credited by Quintana with adjusting the game’s pace when his left calf began cramping up in the fifth.
“He did a good job,” Quintana said, “specifically just giving me time and slowing me down when things were going fast and even when I was hurt a little bit. He was really good about giving me time.”
Flowers had a lot of balls to juggle, keeping an eye on both Quintana and the bench at the same time.
“In that situation, you’re not going to go with his No. 3 or No. 4 pitch, especially toward the end when he was staying in for one more pitch to (Andrelton) Simmons,” he said. “We’re going to get beat with our best.”
Phegley, whose enthusiasm and hitting have injected some life into the sagging Sox, took note of Flowers’ performance behind the plate. Flowers regularly talks to Phegley in time-honored tradition of the veteran helping the rookie.
“It was awesome,” Phegley said. “The main priority is winning the game. “Him and myself, our job is to win the game and get the pitchers through the game, keep those hitters off-balance. He did a great job.”