Flowers' bat leads White Sox, Quintana to 7-0 shutout of Toronto

Dhiren Mahiban, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TORONTO - Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers has taken extra swings at batting practice in an attempt to perfect a more open stance at the plate.
Flowers' extra batting practice prior to Tuesday's game paid off Wednesday as he took Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ's 2-1 second-inning offering deep to right center, a three-run shot, for his third home run of the season.
That offense was all Sox starter Jose Quintana (1-0) needed as he cruised through 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven while allowing five hits on 104 pitches, as Chicago blanked Toronto 7-0 Wednesday night atRogers Centre.
Alexei Ramirez gave Chicago (7-8) a 4-0 lead with an RBI double in the fourth.
Alex Rios had a solo home run to lead off the sixth while Paul Konerko and Jeff Keppinger added sacrifice flies off Blue Jays relief pitcher Ramon Ortiz in the seventh, scoring a pair of runs.
"The offense was great, Tyler (Flowers) coming through like that, I think it was big for him," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You can always be doubted if you continue to struggle or you don't feel right at the plate, so it was good that he got a couple hits, you're helping your team win."
Flowers entered started Wednesday's game in a 1-for-25 slump at the plate, but finished 2-for-4 in the win.
"I didn't feel fooled on any pitches, which is good, (the stance) just felt a little more smooth, I guess," Flowers said. "I had a little more freedom, more swagger (and a) looseness feeling on all my swings today."
Quintana found himself in a jam in the third after allowing a pair of two-out singles to Munenori Kawasaki and Rajai Davis, but got Melky Cabrera swinging to end the inning.
Then in the fifth, again with two out, Kawasaki walked and Davis singled, but Quintana got Cabrera to ground out to short ending the threat.
"I felt really good with my command of my fastball since the first inning, so that allowed me to extend a little bit and use other pitches as well," Quintana said through a translator. "It was the command of the fastball that really allowed me to do everything else."
Added Flowers, "He's been really doing his homework and we've been communicating a little more on kind of what he wants to do. We were trying to establish the fastball early and then work from there."
Happ (2-1) went 5 2/3 innings, his longest outing of the season. He gave up five earned runs on six hits while striking out three,
"I don't think anybody's pressing at this point," Happ said. "But we're aware of (the slow start). We're all trying that's for sure. Again tonight, just getting down early, it makes it tough. It was tough all around after that."
Konerko extended his hit streak to nine games with a leadoff double in the fourth.
Brett Lawrie, who made his 2013 debut for the Blue Jays (6-9) Tuesday, has yet to find a hit after going 0-for-4 Wednesday. He is now 0-for-7 in his first two games, with four strikeouts.
"Tonight they just basically kicked our (rear) all the way around," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "(Quintana) was really good. We were chasing that ball up, a lot of popups. They came right at Happ and the big blow was that home run early. We were never in it. We were overmatched tonight both sides."
White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn is mired in a six-game hitless slump, going 0-for-17 in that span.
Toronto native Jesse Crain pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief for the White Sox, allowing a hit and striking out a pair.
NOTES: Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista missed his third straight game with a sore back. Gibbons said Wednesday that Bautista has not been able to swing a bat the past few days because of the injury, "We thought maybe he'd be in there today, but it's still bothering him a little bit," Gibbons said. ... Chicago optioned right-handed pitcher Deunte Heath to Triple-A Charlotte following Tuesday's win over the Blue Jays and recalled outfielder Jordan Danks. "It's just one of those (moves) between him and Dewayne (Wise), we start mixing and matching when we're going to (use them)," Ventura said.

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