You might need a separate roster to keep track of all the rookies playing for the White Sox. There are 10 of them right now, nearly half of the clubhouse, and their contributions have been pivotal.
Without first-year standouts such as Jose Quintana and Addison Reed, the White Sox might not be on top in the AL Central.
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Quintana pitched brilliantly for eight innings in searing heat and the White Sox beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 to complete a three-game sweep Thursday in the meeting of division leaders. Reed got the final three outs for his 12th save in 13 chances just as a thunderstorm was hitting U.S. Cellular Field.
Veteran Kevin Youkilis, meanwhile, continued his tear with a go-ahead homer off All-Star Matt Harrison and played a key role in the entire series.
"I just drank a lot of water for sure and tried to stay hydrated," said Quintana, who allowed only two hits in a game that started at 99 degrees and elevated to 102 by the fourth inning. "And the other thing was not trying to rush the game. I wanted to make sure I had quality pitches I was throwing."
Bouncing back from a rough outing against the New York Yankees, Quintana (4-1) walked one and struck out a career-high eight. He gave up a leadoff single to Ian Kinsler in the first and an RBI single to Adrian Beltre in the fourth on a line drive that hit the left-hander on the left thigh and bounded past first. He wasn't hurt and didn't give up another hit.
Quintana and Harrison worked quickly despite the sweltering conditions. The game was played in only two hours, nine minutes.
With four pitchers on the DL, including starters John Danks and Phil Humber, the 23-year-old Quintana's performance has been crucial, especially after he pitched most of the first two months in Double-A. He is now 3-0 over his last five starts.
"He has a great feel on the mound, great stuff. He's more mature than you would think," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "We're lucky in the situation we're in with Johnny going down; he was there to pick it up and pitch the way he has."
The loss was the fourth straight for the two-time AL champion Rangers, matching their longest skid of the season. Texas came into the series with the best record in the majors.
"We're in first place in the West. That's where we are," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's what this series told us. We lost three ballgames, but we're in first place in the West."
Youkilis took Harrison deep in the sixth to break a 1-all tie, his sixth homer of the season and second since joining the White Sox in a trade from Boston last month. He's had quite a first homestand with his new team. He homered and had four RBIs in Tuesday night's opener and delivered a winning single and two stellar defensive plays at third on Wednesday.
"I haven't gotten too good of a feel for it yet," Youkilis said of U.S. Cellular, his new home park. "Hopefully the ball keeps jumping. We got guys with a lot of power, so hopefully it plays into that."
It was the first homer Harrison had allowed since June 3 and Thursday was his sixth start since that outing against the Angels. Harrison (11-4) gave up eight hits and two runs with two walks and five strikeouts in eight innings, getting the complete game. He had won his previous seven decisions.
"More humidity here, so it was pretty miserable out there. Trying to have as quick of innings as possible, except for the one," Harrison said. "I was able to get us back in the dugout pretty quick and get the guys out of the heat. It was a really quick game. I'm sure nobody wanted to be out there, but we have to do it, so you might as well make the best of it, I guess."
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on the two-out RBI single by Beltre when his liner struck Quintana near the left hip and ricocheted past Youkilis at first. Kinsler, who had walked and moved to second on a grounder, scored on the play.
Chicago got it back in the bottom half as a walk and two singles loaded the bases before Alexei Ramirez hit an RBI grounder that Beltre made a nice play on while diving to his left. Dayan Viciedo then walked to re-load the bases before Harrison fanned Tyler Flowers.
NOTES: Rangers RHP Yu Darvish won the Final Vote from the fans and will represent the AL in Tuesday's All-Star game, giving Texas eight All-Stars. Chicago's Jake Peavy was also a finalist. ... Announced attendance was 21,288 and many of the fans in the upper deck sat under the overhang to stay in the shade. ... Rangers RHP Neftali Feliz (elbow ligament sprain) and Koji Uehara (strained right lat) are scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Friday.