White Sox ace nearly unhittable in first World Baseball Classic start for Colombia. All-Star pitcher was solid against Team USA.
The stage was set. Marlins Park, the usual home stadium of the Miami Marlins, was being occupied on Friday night for an entirely different occasion. Chicago White Sox All-Star Jose Quintana represented his home country Colombia; as Tampa Bay Rays all star ace Chris Archer pitched for the home team USA.
A highly anticpated pitching matchup surely lived up to expectations as Quintana and Archer matched each other almost pitch for pitch all night long. But which former All-Star would come out on to?
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During the first round of WBC Pool play C, an overlooked Colombia team looked to upset a heavily favored USA team. With a Colombian lineup that featured just two current MLB players, (brothers Jhonatan Solano and Donovan Solano) clashed against a USA team that showcased a lineup flooded with current and former all stars.
Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, and hometown Marlin Giancarlo Stanton just to name a few. On paper, it looked clear which lineup would come out on top. An added pressure would surely get to just about any opposing pitcher in this given situation, but for Quintana, he thrived under it.
Quintana appeared to be in mid-season form as he did a flawless job spotting his fastball on both sides of the plate. He struck out last season’s National League batting champion Daniel Murphy twice. Something that happened to Murphy in only six games last year.
Quintana recorded four one pitch outs, eight (weak) fly outs, and four strikeouts. Not to mention Quintana had a no hitter going through 5.1 innings pitched. The only baserunner Quintana allowed was a leadoff walk in the second inning to Paul Goldschmidt. If this was your run of the mill regular season game, Quintana could have gone deeper into the game and possibly have made Major League history. Due to WBC regulations, pitchers in the first round of the WBC are only allowed a maximum of 65 pitches. Quintana threw 63 pitches, 44 of them for strikes.
Team Colombia’s staff was hoping to get through four innings with Quintana so he could keep them relevant in the game. The plan started off as expected. Quintana and Archer had gone through four innings allowing only one combined base runner between both teams. The seal was broken in the 5th as the bottom of Columbia’s order strung together three straight doubles to give them a 2-0 lead.
Just like Quintana’s luck with the White Sox, his lead was short lived. After he exited halfway through the 5th inning, relief pitcher William Cuevas came in and allowed a double to Adam Jones which led to Goldschmidt scoring from first. A drop third strike past ball from Arenado scored Ian Kinsler from third and the score was tied at 2. Even when he is not in a White Sox uniform the no-decision still finds a way to haunt Quintana.
This start for Quintana was a meaningful one. Possibly the most humbling start of his career. He had expressed his desire and emotion to pitch for team Colombia for a long time. Quintana originally wanted to pitch for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic in 2013, but Colombia was eliminated in the semi-final round of the qualifier. Quintana’s family came down to South Beach to support their very talented left hander. Marlins Park was flooded with love and affection for Quintana when he walked off the mound and was mobbed by his teammates in the dugout.
The White Sox possibly benefitted the most from Quintana’s overwhelming start. With trade rumors surrounding Quintana all offseason long, many teams around the league have steered away from Quintana due to the fact that he’s too valuable, and the means don’t meet the demand.
Well, shutting down an All-Star USA lineup while representing your country in the process is enough proof for me. Still, Quintana’s value is as high as it’s ever been. His bulldogged determination and his club friendly contract have already enticed clubs, but his showing Friday night in the WBC could be the determining factor to push a team over the edge.
For Quintana, since he threw over 50 pitches he is not allowed to pitch for a minimum of four days. If Colombia is unable to beat Team Canada and Team Dominican Republic, Quintana’s hope of pitching again in the tournament will be dashed. Team USA will play the Dominican Republic Saturday afternoon in hopes of moving on to San Diego to play in the second round of action.
If Friday night is the last and only time Quintana pitches in the WBC, he made a mark upon himself, the country of Colombia , and the Chicago White Sox that he is indeed one of the best pitchers in the world.