NEW YORK -- The final numbers from the Yankees' 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium point to another quality start for White Sox hurler Jose Quintana, who allowed two earned runs or fewer for the eighth time in eight starts this season.
But Quintana looks at one Chase Headley at-bat in the second inning as a game-changer.
Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann were retired to open the frame, and Quintana jumped ahead at 0-2 in the count on Headley. Two fastballs and two curves out of the zone later, and Headley became the Yankees' first baserunner of the game.
Aaron Hicks doubled home Headley on an 0-1 fastball, and Didi Gregorius singled home Hicks on the ensuing changeup. Those runs represented the sum total of New York's offense, but it was enough.
"After two outs, I missed a couple of pitches against Hicks and gave up two runs after two were out," Quintana said. "That's it. That's the 2-1 score. Tough game, but that's the point when you think of that and try next time to get the out quick."
"He had one inning that ends up tripping him up, but he's sharp as usual," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That's just what you expect out of him. We couldn't get anything going."
After that second-inning blip, which included home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski removing the Play Ball patch that inadvertently stuck to Quintana's glove from his jersey during the Headley at-bat, Quintana allowed two hits and one walk over the next five innings. Gregorius reached second with a double to open the fifth, but the Yankees didn't get multiple runners on base.
This start marked Quintana's fourth against his former team, which lost him to the White Sox in 2011 after not adding the left-hander to the 40-man roster. He is 2-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 30 2/3 innings in five 2016 road starts, and in his last 21 starts dating back to July 24, 2015, Quintana has a 10-3 mark with a 2.27 ERA.
His 2016 ERA stands at a stingy 1.54, leading to All-Star talk for the one-two punch of Quintana and Chris Sale, even in mid-May.
"That's a dream for any pitcher to make the [All-Star Game]. But it's too early to talk about that," said Quintana, who threw 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes. "That's the best goal for us, but my focus is on the team right now and trying to win games."
A lack of run support has been attached to Quintana since he joined the White Sox rotation in 2012, as proven by a Major League-high 53 no-decisions. The offense did little against Ivan Nova and struck out eight times in 3 1/3 innings against Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman on Saturday.
If Quintana had that Headley at-bat to do over again, though, the outcome in his mind might have been different.
"Stuff like that is going to happen. It doesn't change anything for him," said Ventura of Quintana, who has 11 walks and 47 strikeouts over 52 2/3 innings. "He's still going to be a great pitcher, and he's going to give you the same effort the next time out."