MINNEAPOLIS -- A funny thing happened to Jose Quintana since the All-Star break.
The talented White Sox southpaw has become even stronger and sharper then he was leading up to a first appearance in the Midsummer Classic. And Quintana was pretty darn good before that trip to San Diego.
Quintana allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings during a 2-1 12-inning loss to the Twins Friday, another tough White Sox setback that came via a hit batsman and three walks for Minnesota. In three second-half starts, Quintana has given up two earned runs over 19 1/3 innings to go with 20 strikeouts, five walks and one home run.
His ERA stands at 2.89, making it of little wonder why a White Sox team heading toward some sort of rebuild is getting many calls of interest about the All-Star. The official All-Star honor admittedly has made a difference to Quintana.
"Absolutely," Quintana said. "After that, I know I have more responsibility for the team. I try to help the team. We have good players, a good rotation, everybody is throwing good and good hitters, but sometimes you see tough games like tonight, but you try to be close."
"He's always good," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Quintana. "You just look at him go out there and continue to impress. It always seems like he's just getting better."
On those rare occasions when Quintana gets into jams, he has a knack for extricating himself from trouble. The Twins knocked out four hits in the sixth inning Friday, but scored one run, as an example.
One of two Adam Eaton outfield assists helped Quintana, with Eaton throwing out Miguel Sano at home. But with two outs and runners on second and third, Quintana fanned Eduardo Escobar to keep the game tied.
That deadlock left Quintana with his 57th no-decision, which represents the Majors' highest total since 2012.
"He looks like he's in control of what he's doing. He knows what he wants to do out there," White Sox designated hitter Justin Morneau said. "He attacks, his command … I stood in on a lot of his bullpens when I was coming back.
"You could just stand there because you didn't have to worry about him missing his spot too often. He can throw pretty hard and throw where he wants to. It's unfortunate we don't score more runs when he's out there because he could easily be 14 and whatever the way he's throwing the ball. He's an important part of this team. It's unfortunate we can't get him more wins."
More Quintana wins could come by pitching for a contender. But as Quintana proved again at Target Field, any team wanting a player of his caliber and under control through 2020 is going to have to pay handsomely for his acquisition.