Danks Battles Past Control Issues as Gillaspie, Bullpen Lead White Sox to Victory

John Danks has been phenomenal in 2014. Though he’s been beat up pretty good in three starts, in 13 of his 14 starts outside of those three, he’s turned in at least what qualifies as a quality start … and plenty of times he’s been dominant.

Danks Finds A Way

For a pitcher like him with underwhelming stuff, hitting his spots reigns supreme, which is something that’s difficult to do every time out. On Tuesday night in Boston, Danks was not hitting his spots nearly as well as he would’ve liked to. And although it looked like his outing was heading in an awful direction a few times, he was able to keep the Carmines somewhat in check, one way or another.

Johnny’s first inning approached thirty pitches and was close to becoming a complete disaster. After Brock Holt led off with a double, Dustin Pedroia stepped to the plate and ripped a well-struck grounder up the middle, only for it to take a lucky bounce right into Danks’ mitt for the first out.

He then walked David Ortiz (on what seemed like an intentional unintentional free pass) and Mike Napoli only for Johnny Gomes to squander the home team’s golden opportunity by grounding into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

The second and third innings were much calmer ahead of hectic bottom halves of the fourth and fifth.

Danks escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth but the next frame was not as kind to the 29 year old southpaw. That inning went as follows: Holt triple, Pedroia RBI-double, David Ortiz sac fly to deep center, Mike Napoli RBI-double, Gomes single, Xander Bogaerts RBI-single, David Ross and Stephen Drew strikeouts. Yikes.

Luckily the three runs the ChiSox put on the board to that point (a couple of which were lucky runs themselves) kept the Red Sox from taking the lead after their powerful fifth. We’ll discuss in a sec.

Danks was yanked after retiring the first two batters in the sixth. So he finished with an underwhelming-yet-acceptable line of 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K. One out shy of a quality start on a night in which he was unable to bring anything close to his A-game? Not too shabby …

Offense Busts Out the Big Bats Late

Though Adam Dunn (walk), Alexei Ramirez (infield single), and Conor Gillaspie (single) successfully led off the top of the second inning by loading the bases, the bottom of the order bats did not do their job with ducks on the pond. Thankfully, they were bailed out by a pitcher’s, in this case Brandon Workman‘s worst enemy.

Mike Napoli booted a Dayan Viciedo grounder at first base to get the White Sox’ first run home, and the second crossed the plate when Alejandro De Aza grounded into a routine 4-6-3 double play.

We’ll take it.

But before Danks’ rough fifth inning that tied the game, De Aza was able to redeem himself by singling home Gillaspie, who had doubled off of the Green Monster, to extend the lead to 3-0.

Our Sox then promptly jumped right back out to a lead when Gillaspie, capping off a successful first game back since being plunked in the knee over the weekend, wrapped his second homer of the season down the right field line and around Pesky’s Pole to make it a 5-3 ball game.

Conor was 3-for-4 on the night, coming up a triple shy of the cycle and raising his batting average to .317.

After some solid bullpen work, which we’ll get to in a minute, the offense got the White Sox back on the board with another crooked number in the top half of the ninth.

That frame went as follows: Dayan Viciedo walk, Moises Sierra (pinch-runner) to second on a throwing error, De Aza RBI-triple, Tyler Flowers strikeout, Adam Eaton foul-out, Gordon Beckham RBI-double, Jose Abreu intentional walk, Paul Konerko (pinch-hitter) RBI-double.

It was great to see everyone get involved and make things comfortable heading into the ninth. And it’s always nice to see the good guys suck the life out of another team’s ballpark.

Bullpen Cruises

After his early-season woes and before struggling in the closer role, Ronald Belisario was a good, at-times dominant middle reliever/set-up man for the south siders. In this one he came in in immediate relief of Danks and pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit ball to get the team to the ninth quickly.

Eric Surkamp then worked a scoreless ninth to send the Sox to their hotel victorious, the team’s third straight victory.

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP Photo

Zachary Gropper

About Zachary Gropper

Zach is the Managing Editor of GrabSomeBench.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @zmgrop.