The pieces continued to fit together as the White Sox worked toward their seventh victory in eight games. Sox fans saw plenty of encouraging signs up and down the lineup:
Alejandro De Aza served as a sparkplug, working a seven-pitch walk to lead off the game, and he came around to score when...
- ...Adam Dunn brought the brawn with a two-run homer to center two batters later.
- A.J. Pierzynski marched on with his eighth homer and second triple (a misplayed single, but still).
- Dayan Viciedo delivered two hits, including a two-run Tank blast of his own to right center.
Orlando Hudson battled his way to three walks and played adequate defense at third. His approach changed the bottom half of the lineup considerably.
Alexei Ramirez rescued his average from a sub-Mendoza drop with the biggest hit of the night, a two-out RBI single that gave the Sox a two-run lead, and sparked the lineup's second act.
But most notably:
- Jose Quintana came up from the minors to make his first major-league start, and ended up giving the Sox six strong innings for his first big-league victory.
Taking John Danks' spot in the rotation for a night, Quintana showed signs of nerves. His pace slowed to a crawl with guys on base, and he bounced his slider a lot. Yet he quelled the butterflies well enough to limit the damage to two runs, both scored by Shin-Soo Choo after he led off the first and third innings with doubles.
Oh, the game could have gotten away from him in the fifth. With one out, he issued consecutive five-pitch walks to Choo and Jason Kipnis. Up came an incredibly tough task for a rookie in Asdrubal Cabrera, and Quintana started by going right after him with a pair of upper-zone fastballs Santana couldn't get around on.
It looked like inching the fastball higher was the way to go, but Quintana got cute. He tried inside, and then he tried the slider -- one of which bounced away from Pierzynski and took away the double play. But on a full count, Quintana finally got the fastball up enough, and Cabrera popped out to Paul Konerko for the huge second out.
Carlos Santana then rolled over a fastball and grounded it to Hudson, who made a throw in plenty of time. Paul Konerko had to get off the bag to catch it, but he knew he could get back to tag the base to end the inning, so no harm done. Having succeeded in his most difficult situation of the night, Quintana returned for one more inning and threw a 1-2-3 sixth.
Conversely, the White Sox inflicted plenty of damage against Jeanmar Gomez and the Indians bullpen after Quintana's escape act -- and most of it came with two outs.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gomez found a way to walk Pierzynski and Viciedo back-to-back with two outs. Ramirez followed by lining a single to left. Joe McEwing had an easy decision to wave Pierzynski with Johnny Damon in left, and Pierzynski ended up outrunning Damon's throw to make it a 4-2 game.
Manny Acta replaced Gomez with Jairo Asencio, who started by doing his best impersonation of Miguel Asencio. He walked Hudson on four pitches, then started De Aza with a 3-0 count. De Aza took the next two for strikes, but when Asencio tried a straight fastball targeted for just below the knees, De Aza turned and lined a two-run single into right, giving the White Sox a much safer 6-2 lead.
They piled on three more in the seventh, all with two outs. Alex Rios "singled" to left off Jose Lopez's mitt (seemed like an error), and came around to score when Aaron Cunningham, a corner outfielder playing center, tried to make a diving catch on Pierzynski's sinking liner. He came up a couple feet short, and the ball bounded past him, turning a single into an RBI triple.
Viciedo jumped on the very next pitch he saw for his 429-foot blast, and the rout was sealed.
- The defense also stepped for Quintana, with Gordon Beckham making a brilliant sliding catch in that awkward foul territory behind first in shallow right. Ramirez chipped in with one his classic range-left-spin-and-fire plays up the middle to steal a single from Cunningham.
- Hector Santiago pitched two scoreless innings, and showed a more versatile approach in his second frame.
- Carlos Santana took another beating behind home plate, including a foul tip by Rios that rattled his cage and forced him to leave the game.
- By outhomering the Indians 3-1, the Sox now hold a one-homer edge at U.S. Cellular Field.