CHICAGO -- In White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper's estimation, Jose Quintana pitched better than the five earned runs and eight hits he allowed over four-plus innings against the Mariners on Friday would indicate.
"I thought Quintana was very good for the first four innings. The first [hit] is a fly ball. I turn my head, the ball gets up high and carries out. Hello, Cellular Field," said Cooper, referring to Franklin Gutierrez's leadoff homer to right. "If the wind is blowing the same way toward the end of the game, Adam Dunn's is probably a game-winner, I'd like to think.
"But that's the way it goes. I thought he was very good through four, and in the fifth inning OK, leadoff double, no big deal. But the play at first base when the throw was slightly behind him and he had to go bare hand and he took his eyes off the ball for a split second to try and find the bag, it's like a bunt play. We need to get an out on that play, we didn't get it and that opened the door for a bigger inning."
Quintana was a revelation for the White Sox last season, posting a 4-1 record and a 2.04 ERA prior to the All-Star break. But as his innings total grew, the southpaw's effectiveness tumbled to a 5.01 second-half ERA and a 6.75 ERA over six games and five starts in September.
Cooper isn't focused on the 24-year-old Colombian native needing a good 2013 start to erase last season's rough finish.
"The second half of last year means nothing. It means nothing," Cooper said. "Listen, this kid last year, if you remember, came from basically A-ball, he had two weeks in Double-A, pitched his [butt] off, and as the year went on his innings total got as high as it has ever been. There is a big difference from throwing 140 innings in the Major Leagues and 140 innings in the Minor Leagues. There's no rest in the lineup.
"All I look at from last year is, where do we need to go, what do we need to improve on, how do we round out a guy's game and continue to put a guy in a good direction career wise and success wise? In the moment right now, we just have to keep trying to make more pitches and obviously we can't let a ball like that, a little roller like that to first base, that has to be an out."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.