Quintana: Location culprit for big-inning woes

Left-hander says mechanics are still clean, but working to improve execution

Quintana: Location culprit for big-inning woes

PHOENIX -- Jose Quintana was perfect for the first three innings of the White Sox 8-6 loss to the D-backs on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field.

Nine up, nine down, five strikeouts, and a great deal of uncomfortable swings against the White Sox ace.

So what changed over the next 1 1/3 innings, when Quintana yielded eight runs on eight hits? It seemed to be a matter of missed location, especially with the fastball, which has plagued Quintana as he's gone 2-6 with a 4.82 ERA to start the season.

"There were a few mistakes we had, but they just took advantage of us," White Sox catcher Kevan Smith said. "In the first three, we took advantage of their aggressiveness, we were down in the zone. And kind of a domino effect a little after that, one after another. Maybe not pitching in the best situations, getting in holes a little."

"The ball ran to the middle a couple of times," Quintana said. "That's the reason they hit me hard: my location sometimes, especially in the stretch. I keep working on that. I'm doing better. It was a tough game for me. Bad day, and you know, look ahead and keep going."

Arizona's offense deserves credit for inflicting the damage, putting together three straight hits to push home two runs in the fourth after Quintana -- staked to a 2-0 advantage -- retired the first 10. Those hitters maintained their confidence and approach despite the southpaw's early run of excellence.

"Explosive," said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo of his offense. "A bunch of guys rallying around a moment to have big innings. I don't think we have the mentality of letting up again. Especially when we smell a little bit of blood."

But Quintana has fallen victim to the big inning on a few occasions this season. On Opening Day, the Tigers scored five off Quintana in the second. On April 15, the Twins tagged Quintana for five in the first.

D-backs score six in the 5th

A six-run fifth knocked out Quintana on Wednesday, helping the D-backs complete a three-game sweep and drop the White Sox to 3-7 on this road trip. Quintana's mechanics frequently have been described as nearly flawless, allowing him to hit all quadrants of the zone consistently.

Quintana talked postgame about feeling good in that area, throwing the ball better than he did at the start of the season. Remember, Quintana is also coming off a one-hitter thrown over eight innings at Seattle in his last start.

These struggles remain surprising for one of the game's most consistent starters. With another 20-plus starts still on the docket, they certainly don't define him.

"Certain pitches do stuff maybe he doesn't want them to do," Smith said. "We're trying to throw outside sinkers to righties, and they're cutting back over. Those are all things for him to iron out with [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper], and I'm there for him. We all hate to see him struggle."

"He's a hard worker and we all know how talented he is and we're all confident in him," said White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "It's a matter of one thing for him to clean it up and to be that Jose Quintana that we know."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.