When the season started, Jose Quintana was starting for the Class AA Birmingham Barons.
Considering he pitched for Class A Tampa in the Yankees' system last year, Quintana appeared to be competing against the right level of competition.
Contact information ( * required )
And when the season started, Kevin Youkilis was gearing up for what he thought would be another productive season with the Boston Red Sox.
Three months later, Quintana and Youkilis were helping the White Sox sweep the defending two-time American League champion Texas Rangers.
You've got to love baseball.
And White Sox fans have got to be loving their team -- particularly Quintana and Youkilis -- following Thursday afternoon's 2-1 win over Texas at U.S. Cellular Field.
"It was great," Youkilis said after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning that decided the outcome. "To win the series against the Rangers is a great thing. That's a great ball team. But to get the sweep at the end is even better."
You can say the Sox caught the Rangers at the right time, considering they have six pitchers on the disabled list.
But the White Sox have five players on the DL, and 10 of their 25 players are rookies.
So let's call it a wash, and let's give Quintana some major credit for holding baseball's best-hitting team to 1 run on 2 hits in 8 innings.
"Definitely, they're one of the best lineups in baseball, but I just go out there and do the same thing each time," Quintana said through a translator. "I just try to do my best and also throw my best pitches for strikes."
The 23-year-old lefty has been a strike machine since stepping into the Sox' starting rotation after John Danks went down with a bum shoulder in late May.
Not only is Quintana 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA after making his eighth start of the season Thursday, he's walked just 10 batters in 57 innings.
"He's doing great," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said of the rookie starter. "If you're going to beat him you're really going to have to string some hits together. He doesn't walk a lot of guys, so it seems like you have to string some hits against him and that's tough to do.
"He's a great story. We're all happy for him. Good guy. Can't say enough. He's been a huge part of our year."
Youkilis has been a huge part of the White Sox since arriving in a June 24 trade from Boston. He kept the big hits coming as the Sox won their third straight over the Rangers.
After going 3-for-6, hitting a 2-run homer and driving in 4 runs in Tuesday's win over Texas, Youkilis decided Wednesday night's game with a walk-off single in the 10th inning.
On Thursday, he took Rangers all-star Matt Harrison (11-4) over the right-field fence in the sixth inning and the solo home run proved to be the difference in a game that started with 102-degree temperatures and ended with rain and lightning.
"You just want to go up and have good at-bats," Youkilis said. "Some days it's going to be a good hit and some days it's not going to matter. You want to have good hits all the time, but sometimes it works where it's a clutch hit and sometimes it's early in the game. The clutch hit is magnified more."