Danks’ Start Stands Out in Saturday’s Loss

The White Sox dropped their third straight contest on Saturday afternoon when the Kansas City Royals handed them a 4-3 loss. The south siders are now 2-3, and though this losing streak has been frustrating, there have certainly been positives during it. The main positive from this one was John Danks‘ strong seven-inning performance.

But before we dissect no. 50’s day, we’ll touch on everything else because thanks to Bruce “Cy” Chen, that won’t take very long.

For most of the game, the White Sox’ offense couldn’t get anything going. Chen, a notorious Sox killer, off-speeded his way to a very nice line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Yeah, seven strikeouts for Bruce freakin’ Chen.

The unearned run definitely should’ve been earned, but the official scorer obviously felt differently. Long story short, the team’s extreme struggles against the 36 year-old native of Panama don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Conor Gillaspie and Alexei Ramirez had the best days at the plate, both going 2-for-4, though Gillaspie was the one really hitting the ball hard.

Adrian Nieto, getting his first major league start as Danks’ battery mate could’ve very easily been 2-for-3 instead of 0-for-3, but the scorer ruled an error on his shoulda-been RBI single, and a liner up the middle hit Aaron Crow‘s leg, stopping it from going back through the middle.

The team did muster eight hits in total and was very resilient in battling back from a late deficit. That’s a trend Sox fans are already falling in love with, though it’d just be better to not have to come from behind so often.

Scott Downs and Maikel Cleto let up back-to-back doubles to Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in the bottom of the eighth after the Sox tied the game at three, so the bullpen took their second loss of the season.

Also of note: Avisail Garcia, who has been retired in his last 13 at bats, got the day off and Dayan Viciedo got the start in right field. That was surprising, as nobody expected to see both he and Alejandro De Aza starting together in the outfield. But the Sox feeling confident putting him there means even more platoon options, which ain’t a bad thing.

Anyway …

Danks Dominates, Hits a Rough Patch, but Bounces Back Strong

After a walk to Nori Aoki to leadoff the Royals’ half of the first inning, Danks dominated for three innings. In that time there was only one other runner to reach base, and it came on a Jose Abreu error. KC was not making solid contact and Danksy, despite not having much velocity, was hitting his spots about as well as one can.

But then the fourth inning came along, which saw Danks and the Sox get hurt by walks and ‘the big inning,’ two things that have hurt them consistently throughout the week.

Omar Infante led things off with a well-hit single to left center, the first ball hit hard for the Royals on the afternoon. Eric Hosmer, Butler and Gordon followed with three consecutive softly-hit base knocks which was just terrible luck for Danks. Luckily though Hosmer made a mistake on the base paths and got thrown out at home, saving the Sox a run.

But then, Danks walked Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas to bring home KC’s second run of the inning. And while that was not fun to watch, especially with the free passes hurting the team so much of late, he really settled down from there on out.

Despite an elevated pitch count thanks to a lengthy fourth inning, Danks was perfect in the sixth and seventh inning to help save the ‘pen, who’d been used heavily of late.

He finished with a very nice line in his quality start: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K. And as we briefly mentioned, his velocity was not quite where it was in the spring, sitting at about 88-89 MPH. If he’s able to get that up to 90-92, he’ll be able to miss even more bats. His secondary pitches were on in this one and he was moving the ball inside and out masterfully.

Most have considered Danks to be a back-of-the-rotation guy for this season, but if he can pitch at a higher level than that, the Sox will be getting a big boost.

Youngsters Jose Quintana and Erik Johnson have had very high expectations placed upon them, and rightfully so … but good play from the veteran Texas native could go a long way in helping them settle into their big roles as the season gets underway.

Zachary Gropper

About Zachary Gropper

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