CHICAGO | Left-hander Jose Quintana is the glaring omission on most pundits’ analysis of who will remain with the White Sox after the inevitable trade-deadline housecleaning.
Ace Chris Sale and team captain Paul Konerko are the most frequently-mentioned names of Sox untouchables as trades start to go down in the next three weeks. Yet the 24-year-old Quintana, in only his first full season as a big-league starter, is a commodity craved by almost every team. It’s difficult to conceive the Sox dealing him.
Quintana showed why Thursday in the Sox’s 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. He struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings, allowing just two singles and a walk. He retired the final 13 batters, including eight strikeouts of the last 12 hitters.
Adam Dunn won the game with a one-out, walk-off homer, his 23rd, to left field in the ninth inning – two innings too late to stake Quintana to a victory. Dunn also drove in the second run with an opposite-field single in the sixth to give Quintana a 2-0 lead.
But Dunn’s ill-timed error on a grounder to first helped the Orioles tie the game in the eighth, after Quintana departed. The Colombian native thus suffered his seventh consecutive no-decision. He has not recorded a victory since May 21 in Boston.
“There’s no question he’s part of what we have here and what believe in,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He was outstanding. Just being able to pound strikes and keep them off-balance and locate, all that stuff. Just his mentality. He’s just a tough kid. He’s the guy you like sending out there.”
A steal from the Yankees farm system, Quintana was a big part of the Sox's first-place run until he tired late in the 2012 season. He finished 6-6 with a 3.76 ERA. With the no-decisions this season, Quintana is 3-2 with a 3.69 ERA. He’s walked 29 and fanned 78 in 100 innings.
“Last year, I worked a lot inside, and they asked me to go outside with some right-handed batters,” Quintana said through interpreter Lou Hernandez. “This year, I feel I have a little more control. I can manage my control a little better, and that’s led to some success.”
Orioles stars Adam Jones and Chris Davis couldn’t touch Quintana on Thursday.
“From the beginning of the game, I felt I had really good control, and I felt I’m going to be able to do some things,” he said. “That’s what led to me striking out so many batters.”
Fellow lefty Chris Sale is the only Sox pitcher with more than one double-digit strikeout game this season.
Dunn’s traditional power to left center has returned in a 10-homer, .333 surge in his last 23 games. However, he would not have relished facing a southpaw with Quintana’s stuff.
“When he pitches like he did, throwing strikes," said Dunn, "you’ve seen in the past and this year, when he’s going good and throwing strikes, he’s just missing barrels.”