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The White Sox' Carlos Quentin just got recognized as an All-Star, in addition to receiving a well-done profile from the Tribune's usually puffy Melissa Isaacson, who delivered a piece with some fine quotes and details from Quentin's mother, Queta. Yet through it all what's been overlooked is his pivotal place in the Cubs-Sox interleague series. (Let's call it the City Serious, in honor of Ring Lardner's Jack Keefe, as opposed to the Crosstown Classic or whatever else.) With both teams entering in first place, when the Sox got swept at Wrigley, making it seem as if they didn’t deserve a postseason date with the Cubs, they came back more determined and more focused when the action shifted to Sox Park. The pivotal moment came early in Friday’s opening game when Cubs starter Ryan Dempster came high and tight with some chin music to Quentin with the Sox rallying in the third inning, knocking him to the ground. As the baseball book requires, Dempster followed that with a low, outside breaking ball, and Quentin lashed it down the right-field line to score a run and make it 3-0 Sox. Jermaine Dye drove him in, the next two batters walked against the rattled Dempster, and Nick Swisher followed with a grand slam, so the rout -- and the Sox comeback -- was on. If Quentin doesn't deliver in that instant, the Cubs have delivered their message of dominance and perhaps everything is different.
“He came up and in,” Quentin said afterward in his typically understated, matter-of-fact manner. “I’m not surprised by that when a pitcher does it. He’s trying to make a pitch. Obviously, I don’t want to get hit. (Dempster’s) got enough control that he might have wanted to put it there. It’s neither here nor there. The job had to get done to get the run in. You dust yourself back off, refocus, and I was happy I got a good swing on the ball and got the run in and got the job done.”
He got the job done the next day too, when he hit the game-winning homer, and Sunday as well, when another Quentin homer broke a scoreless tie and sent the Sox toward a 5-1 victory to complete the reverse sweep. That might not have sealed Quentin's spot on the All-Star team, but it sealed his place in the hearts of Sox fans.