It’s entirely possible that the depth of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ future organizational prospects improved on Saturday night. And not because of what any of their current minor league players have done.
In what was almost certainly one of his last two starts for the organization, veteran Jose Quintana threw in seven shutout innings to lift the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday.
With 11 days left on the MLB trade deadline, Quintana was on the short list of desirable targets for teams looking for a left-hander as a starter. curve and changeup like he has all season.
“I know (there are) a lot of rumors around me,” Quintana said after the game. “I’ve been in that situation before. I don’t pay attention to it now. I just want to keep throwing the ball well. Today I focused on doing my steps and tried to spend fewer steps per bat. It’s all I can control. I want to keep focusing on that.”
2016 All-Star Quintana (3-5) caused nine hits and misses among his 81 pitchers (52 hits). All four of Miami’s hits against Quintana were singles. He didn’t go hitter, and the only runner to reach third base while he was in the game was Luke Williams in the third inning. Williams achieved thanks to one of two Ke’Brien Hayes mistakes.
Thanks in part to three double plays and a caught steal, Quintana faced just three batters from a seven-inning minimum (24).
“He was really good,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton.
“He went out and executed. He moved the fastball around. He was extremely effective… A really good move because it’s a pretty good right-handed stick.”
In 11 of 19 starts this season, Quintana has suffered two or fewer earned runs while serving at least five innings. His seasonal ERA dropped to 3.70.
The Pirates survived 23 straight outs in plate matches in the last seven innings of an 8-1 loss on Friday and the first two batters on Saturday. But after Hayes walked with two strikeouts in the first, Marlins starter Max Meyer left the game with what the team called elbow discomfort.
Miami was then forced to turn the game into the bullpen, but that did little to ignite the Pirates’ offense that resulted in two or fewer runs in five of their last six games.
However, when dealing with Quintana, all the Pirates need is one. It came in sixth on a two-out single by Yoshi Tsutsugo, who broke out of a 1-for-21 slump by hitting Tanner Scott in the center, who scored against Ben Gamela.
“He’s had some practice,” Shelton said of Tsutsugo. “I thought he had three really good balls tonight.”
The Pirates were limited to nine hits, and all but one (Kevin Newman’s double in the third inning) were singles. The only member of the starting lineup not to hit was Hayes, who snapped a nine-match hitting streak.
Wil Crow worked on a hit and a single during a scoreless eighth inning, and David Bednar earned his 17th save despite walking with one out in the ninth.
The shutout was the third for the Pirates this season, the first since June 5 and the second 1-0 in the last four seasons.
Before Saturday, the Pirates (40-55) lost five of the previous six.
Quintana improved his ERA at PNC Park this season to 2.64. But will he make another start there? His next move in the rotation is scheduled for Friday’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies. But another team by then may offer a trade package too attractive for Pirates general manager Ben Cherington to resist.
Cherington has shown a tendency to close deals before the deadline, and the sale of veterans is in full swing after Friday’s trade of designated hitter and RBI team leader Daniel Vogelbach to the New York Mets.
Quintana, who is earning $2 million this season on a one-year contract he signed in November, took the talks lightly and instead focused his post-match comments on the win.
“It’s nice to start the second half strong, and that’s what I was thinking today – equalize this series, take the first victory in the second half,” Quintana said. “And I really focus on things that I can control.
“I was around for a long time and I tried not to be distracted, so I just focused on things that I have control over. So I’m very happy with this performance, which is why I wanted to start strong and continue like that.”
Chris Adamsky is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. You can reach Chris at email@example.com or via Twitter. .
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