Follow that dream: Quintana flirts with no-no
Left-hander's no-hit bid ends after 6 1/3 frames, picks up third win
CHICAGO -- White Sox starter Jose Quintana has always dreamed of throwing a no-hitter.
He watched his teammate, Chris Sale, build up the anticipation of the crowd on May 12, when he went 19 straight outs without allowing a hit and finished the game with a one-hit shutout.
In Tuesday night's 3-1 win over the Red Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, it was Quintana's turn to make a run at history. On the heels of an announcement that Sale would miss Wednesday's start due to mild tendinitis in his left posterior shoulder, Quintana exemplified just how deep the White Sox pitching staff has been this season. He tied Sale's mark, lasting 6 1/3 innings without allowing a hit and ended his night unscathed despite leaving the game with the bases loaded.
"You get through six, you start thinking about it," manager Robin Ventura said. "But when you go through that lineup and all of the sudden you get to [Dustin] Pedroia and [David] Ortiz, you hope that it happens, but that's a tough lineup to go through and think that's going to happen, especially the way they've been hitting this year."
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz broke up the no-hit bid with his one-out single in the seventh inning, and Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava followed with base knocks of their own. Those were the only three hits Quintana surrendered, and Chicago reliever Jesse Crain preserved Quintana's unblemished line by striking out the next two batters to extend his scoreless streak to 17 2/3 innings.
"He kept us in the game. That was kind of the game changer right there," closer Addison Reed said of Crain. "When he was running out to the mound, honestly, I was like 95 percent positive that no runs were going to cross the plate. That's just how well he's throwing the ball. I think Robin feels that. I think everybody feels that."
Offense wasn't easy to come by on Tuesday, as the White Sox managed only five hits off Red Sox starter Felix Doubront. In the fifth inning, Jeff Keppinger continued the two-out hitting trend from Monday night's game, when the White Sox scored all six of their runs with two away. The third baseman hit a two-run home run to left with Dayan Viciedo on base for his first home run since Sept. 29, 2012, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. That blast came off Sale at U.S. Cellular Field.
"It's awesome," Keppinger said. "All the credit goes to 'Q' for keeping us in that game like that where obviously two runs can win it. But it's a good feeling to come through for your team and help your team win."
The White Sox pitching has kept the team in a lot of games recently. Chicago's starters own a 2.83 ERA in 121 innings in May. With right-hander Dylan Axelrod's strong effort in Chicago's 6-2 win on Monday and Quintana's thrilling start Tuesday, the White Sox have already taken the three-game set against the Red Sox for their first winning series at home since April 7. On Wednesday, they have a chance to sweep the Red Sox, who entered the series with a 14-7 road record and on a five-game winning streak.
The White Sox bullpen nearly coughed up the lead in the eighth inning after shortstop Alexei Ramirez allowed the Red Sox's only run to score on a fielding error. With runners at the corners and one out, Ortiz stepped up to the plate with a chance to ruin Chicago's night. He smacked a ball down the first-base line, but Paul Konerko scooped it and started a 3-6-3 inning-ending double play.
While Quintana didn't accomplish his dream, he said the taste of a no-hitter only motivates him that it will happen someday. He noticed the no-hit bid in the fifth inning, stuck his head down and continued to throw the first-pitch strikes that gave the Red Sox fits all day.
"He had very good fastball location the first six innings of the game here tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He was down in the zone, both sides of the plate. He used his secondary pitches sparingly but he was very effective."
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.