Jose Quintana might've figured out how to pick up road victories this season: Hold the opponent scoreless through six, then wait for the offense to explode.
That template worked tonight, at least. Quintana powered through some jams and worse-than-usual control to strike out 10 Blue Jays over six shutout innings, and then watched his teammates continue their seventh-inning success. Dioner Navarro provided the big blow with a two-out, two-run triple -- his first since 2012 -- and the Sox went on to complete their second consecutive sweep.
The Sox benefited from some luck, hustle, and questionable management by John Gibbons, who left in Marco Estrada despite control that was going in the opposite direction of his pitch count.
Todd Frazier greeted Estrada with a single, but was forced out at second on Melky Cabrera's grounder to short. It looked like a 6-4-3 off the bat, but Cabrera beat it out by a partial step to keep traffic on the basepaths. Brett Lawrie moved him to scoring position with a walk, but Avisail Garcia struck out to jeopardize the threat.
Up came Navarro, with Estrada still on the mound with a pitch count of 115. Gibbons tried to get one more out on him, and he came up one strike short. On an 0-2 count, Estrada went to the changeup that worked well for him all night. But it had the center of the plate, and while it was low, Navarro got down and golfed it to the right-center gap, where it bounced off the very top of the wall to stay in play.
That bounce was fortuitous. Had it been a ground-rule double, only one run would've scored. Instead, it caromed back into play and over the head of the outfielders on the rebound, allowing Navarro to reach third for a stand-up, two-run triple. Finally, Gibbons pulled Estrada.
Then again, maybe none of the breaks the Sox received would've mattered, as Austin Jackson welcomed Jesse Chavez with an RBI triple to right center to make it a 3-0 game. (The consecutive triples were a first for the White Sox since ... last July. But they hadn't done it since 1954 before that.)
Quintana, whose pitch count was 104 through six innings, didn't have to come out for a seventh to get a decision. Instead, he let the bullpen carry him across the finish line. A Garcia RBI single in the eighth tacked on a run for good measure.
Through six innings, it was a tense pitchers' duel, although one aided by a generous strike zone by home plate umpire John Tumpane.
Quintana only pitched one clean inning out of his six, and stranded a runner in scoring position in four of those innings. He needed his fastball to power his way out of it:
- Second inning: Struck out Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar with a runner on second.
- Third inning: Struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion with runners on first and second.
- Fifth inning: Struck out Bautista with runners on first and second.
And just when it looked like he might have some gas left to start the seventh, he walked Matt Dominguez after getting ahead 0-2, then got locked into another full count with Martin. This time, Quintana blew a 91-mph fastball by him for his 10th and final strikeout.
On Toronto's side, Estrada matched Quintana through six innings, albeit with less dynamite. The Sox didn't have a great opportunity until the sixth, when Estrada foreshadowed his decreasing effectiveness by issuing back-to-back walks with one out. Jimmy Rollins struck out, though, and Jose Abreu flied out to end the threat. But Estrada gave the Sox another opportunity in the seventh, and they didn't let a second one pass them by.
*The Sox have now outscored opponents 23-4 in the seventh inning.
*Adam Eaton made a nice leaping catch on the warning track to boost those league-leading defensive metrics.
*Gibbons was ejected by Tumpane after Estrada's fateful pitch, although it was the culmination of a game's worth of jawing from both dugouts.
*Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson each pitched a scoreless inning for the team's fifth shutout of the season.