The Red Sox dodged Chris Sale on this trip to Chicago. But they didn't dodge Jose Quintana, and after Tuesday night, they probably wish it had been the other way around.
Quintana was, for eight innings, all but unhittable. This was one of those games where you measure chances not by runners in scoring position and the like, but by "almost hits." The Red Sox will look back on a near-homer from David Ortiz in the second inning that was caught by a leaping Austin Jackson at the wall, and...
Well, that's the one that comes to mind.
The thing is, that one might have been enough to make all the difference had it gotten out. Because while Steven Wright came out looking like he was finally set for one of those old knuckleball disasters, he managed to reign himself in and turn in what is becoming his standard: six innings, two runs. It was never easy, exactly, with Wright surrendering four walks on the night, but he survived, and kept the Red Sox close enough that, with Hanley Ramirez finally picking up his second homer of the year in the fifth, they entered the second half of the game down just the one run.
But as we've established, this was not a game where any number of runs would come easily, and Quintana barely allowed them any hope after that point. The best they had from that point on was a leadoff single for Xander Bogaerts in the seventh, with Ortiz, Ramirez, and Shaw going down in order behind him.
The Red Sox did get to enjoy the return of Carson Smith, who pitched a quick, clean seventh. But when he handed the ball of to Junichi Tazawa, things did not go nearly so well. The bottom of the eighth started with a bunt single, and spiraled out of control from there. Tazawa would not manage to record his first out until the fifth batter of the inning, and then it still took a replay. Matt Barnes would come in and manage to keep the White Sox from scoring any more than the two they'd already plated, but in a game where the Red Sox had barely threatened all day, the one run lead the White Sox had heading into the inning was already going to prove more than enough. The top of the lineup went in order in the ninth, and that was it for the game.
So the Red Sox go back to second, but hey, Jose Quintana is looking like a monster to start the season. Good pitchers will, from time-to-time, shut good lineups down. There's nothing for it but to regroup and try again tomorrow when Quintana is nowhere in sight.