Chicago White Sox: John Danks

Series preview: White Sox at Red Sox

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
1:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
There is no time like the present for the Chicago White Sox to solve their recent matchup issues against the Boston Red Sox.

The White Sox will head to Fenway Park for a four-game series starting Monday night, knowing they have lost 14 of the last 19 games to the defending World Series champions.

The White Sox starters have been solid the last time through the rotation, although the weakest link of the bunch starts Monday as Scott Carroll takes the mound. Carroll, who has never faced the Red Sox, is just 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA over his seven starts this season and is 0-3 with a 6.30 ERA on the road.

If the White Sox can get through Carroll's start on Monday there could be smooth sailing ahead. John Danks, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Noesi combined to deliver a 0.87 ERA and a .190 opponents' batting average over the past four games.

Sale's start Wednesday has some added intrigue. The last time he faced the Red Sox in April, he gave up just one run over seven innings and threw 127 pitches. The bad news was that he not only lost the game, but went on the disabled list after that with a sore arm.

Of further added interest is that Wednesday's start will come one day before online voting ends for the final American League All-Star roster spot. Sale is in consideration for the spot with four other pitchers: Houston's Dallas Keuchel, Cleveland's Corey Kluber, the Los Angeles Angels' Garrett Richards and the Tigers' Rick Porcello.

HEAD TO HEAD

Paul Konerko is 7-for-15 (.467) with a home run in his career against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz, but probably won't start against the right-hander Monday. Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez each have a home run against Buchholz. ... No White Sox player has more than one at-bat against Tuesday's Red Sox starter Brandon Workman. ... Konerko likely will start Thursday since he is 10-for-28 (.357) in his career against Red Sox starter Jon Lester, with three home runs. ... Scott Carroll, who starts for the White Sox on Monday, has never faced the Red Sox. ... The Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia is just 3-for-20 (.150) against John Danks, who starts for the White Sox on Tuesday. ... Members of the Red Sox's 40-man roster are batting a combined 4-for-41 (.098) against Sale, who starts for the White Sox on Wednesday. ... The Red Sox's Will Middlebrooks, David Ortiz and Pedroia are a combined 2-for-14 (.143) against Jose Quintana, who will start for the White Sox on Thursday.

NOTES



The White Sox's pitching staff has recorded two shutouts this season, with both coming in the past seven games. ... After struggling at the start of the previous road trip, the White Sox have won six of their last nine games. ... The White Sox bullpen has a 2.63 ERA over the last eight games, all while adjusting to a closer-by committee situation. ... The White Sox have a 27-24 record against teams above .500, while posting a 15-23 record against teams that are under .500, and the Red Sox are 10 games under at 39-49. ... The White Sox's offense had just two hits in Sunday's victory and have just six hits over their past two games (23 innings). ... In 13 2/3 innings since coming off the disabled list, Buchholz has allowed five runs in two starts for the Red Sox.

PITCHING MATCHUPS



Monday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (2-5, 5.05 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.22), 6:10 p.m. CST
Tuesday: White Sox LH John Danks (7-6, 4.12) vs. Red Sox RH Brandon Workman (1-2, 4.17), 6:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox LH Chris Sale (8-1, 2.16) vs. TBA, 6:10 p.m. CST
Thursday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.20) vs. Red Sox LH Jon Lester (9-7, 2.73), 3:05 p.m. CST

Noesi shows Mariners what they're missing

July, 6, 2014
Jul 6
5:54
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Revenge is a dish best served in the blazing sun with a touch of humidity on the side. At least that’s how it worked for Chicago White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi on Sunday.

Noesi, who started the season with the Seattle Mariners before being designated for assignment and traded to the Texas Rangers, dominated his former teammates. He allowed just five hits over 6 2/3 innings of an eventual 1-0 White Sox victory.

[+] EnlargeHector Noesi
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhHector Noesi has been quite a find for the White Sox, as evidenced by the five-hit ball he pitched into the seventh inning against his former team Seattle.
Noesi has plenty of scores to settle since the Rangers eventually put him on waivers, which is where the White Sox moved in and scooped up the right-hander for their pitching staff. All of those moves happened before the calendar had flipped over to May.

With some new mechanical touchups recommended by pitching coach Don Cooper, the White Sox have been able to showcase a brand-new muscle car in a lineup that includes left-handers Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks.

With his career seemingly salvaged, at least to this point, Noesi has no problem acknowledging the best pitching coach he’s ever had.

“I’m going to say I’m sorry to the others, but I think, yes, [Cooper is] because every day with me he says, ‘You have to do this,’” Noesi said. “It’s not like you throw a bullpen and I’ll fix you in the bullpen and that’s it. He asks every day.”

Of course, there haven’t been many between-start bullpen sessions of late for a pitching coach to fix things.

Between last year and a handful of appearances this year, Noesi had made just one big league start since the start of the 2013 season, working primarily out of the bullpen instead.

The White Sox saw him as a potential starter down the road, but nobody could have predicted the quick transformation that has occurred.

Noesi tried to say after beating the Mariners that revenge was not on his mind. Maybe not, but it certainly was on everybody else’s.

Manager Robin Ventura acknowledged that it was probably a factor, and then there was the hand-written word above his locker supplied by one of his teammates that read, “Revenge.”

Noesi rolled his eyes and smirked when he saw it.

“He's a tough kid,” Ventura said. “He's confident, and he knows what he can do. Sometimes you get an opportunity and you run with it, and I think that's what he's done.

“Anytime you go through the route that he's been out on and you get a chance to show what you've got, he's going to do it. You tip your hat to him. He's been able to do that for us, and he's been a big lift for us.”

With Sale, Quintana and Danks all heading into the upcoming road trip pitching about as good as they have all season, having one more pitcher they can trust would have the White Sox feeling that much better about themselves.

Ventura no longer wants the three left-handers pitching on consecutive days in the second half of the season. Noesi could even find himself potentially pitching in potentially in the second or third game after the All-Star break, especially if the White Sox want to give Sale some extra rest, assuming he makes the American League All-Star team and pitches in the July 15 Midsummer Classic.

With Cooper at his side, Noesi believes he can be the pitcher he wants to be. He has the self-confidence anyway.

“Well, when I got here Cooper said, ‘I’m going to fix you,’ you know?” Noesi said. “So I believe everything he says, and he’s doing good with me. They gave me the opportunity to start and they said we just want you to go do what you have to do, so I try to take advantage of that spot right now.”

Rapid Reaction: Mariners 3, White Sox 2 (14)

July, 5, 2014
Jul 5
5:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox could not hang on and fell 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners in 14 innings Saturday to even the three-game series at a game each.

How it happened: The Mariners’ Brad Miller doubled home the go-ahead run in the 14th inning off White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario, who was in his third inning of work. The White Sox could have won it before extra innings, but relievers Eric Surkamp and Zach Putnam combined to give up two runs that let the Mariners tie it. The White Sox broke through against Felix Hernandez in the eighth inning on an RBI double from Dayan Viciedo and a sacrifice fly from Tyler Flowers for a 2-0 lead. Jose Quintana went 7 1/3 scoreless innings, matching a season high with 10 strikeouts. Jose Abreu’s hitting streak was snapped at 18 games. The White Sox had four hits in 47 at-bats.

What it means: No matter where they turn, the White Sox can’t find somebody they can trust to close games. Matt Lindstrom struggled before going down with an ankle injury. Belisario was pitching well in a setup role, but couldn’t handle the ninth inning. Now the closer-by-committee setup isn’t getting it done either. That doesn’t even include closer candidate Nate Jones, who has been out almost the entire season with a back issue.

Outside the box: With his single to lead off the game, Adam Eaton has now reached base in 27 of his last 28 contests. He entered Saturday with a .311 batting average, five triples and 16 walks over his previous 27 games and a .343 average and a .439 on-base percentage over his previous 19 games.

Off beat: Abreu nearly clubbed his 28th home run of the season in the fourth inning, but his drive to center field was caught at the top of the wall by the Mariners’ James Jones. Had Abreu gone deep it would have been the fifth former Cy Young Award winner he had homered off after Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey, Justin Verlander and David Price.

Up next: The White Sox will send right-hander Hector Noesi (2-6, 5.33 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. The Mariners will counter with right-hander Taijuan Walker (1-0, 4.50) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Danks gives all as Ventura rolls dice

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
11:59
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- It never is easy to swim through crocodile-infested waters, yet Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura managed to pull off the trick Wednesday.

With his starting pitcher at his limit and the heart of a toothy Los Angeles Angels order coming to the plate, Ventura let John Danks hang it all out on the line.

Call it part faith-building exercise and part a bullpen that has been rolling along on wobbly tires. Danks entered the eighth inning at 107 pitches. He struck out Mike Trout, got Albert Pujols to fly out near the warning track and then gave up a game-tying home run to Josh Hamilton.

An inning later, the life preserver was thrown in the form of three consecutive White Sox singles that won the game, the last coming off the bat of Leury Garcia against a five-man infield for a 3-2 victory.

[+] EnlargeJohn Danks
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh"I'm glad to be able to be sent back out there with 100-plus pitches," White Sox starter John Danks said of his late work Wednesday. "I hope the next time it turns out a little better."
And because of that hit from the little-used Garcia, Ventura’s message still came through on multiple fronts: His proven players, like Danks, will get the benefit of the doubt -- even if they might be running on fumes -- as the bullpen isn’t in the best of shape.

“He's got every bit of faith in us, so it seems at least,” Danks said afterward. “He gives us a chance to go out there. He kind of looks at it as we do, as it’s our ballgame. That certainly goes a long way when your manager has your back. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get out of the eighth, but these guys battled their butts off and it's always good to get a win.”

Ventura talked about a new-look Danks as his inspiration for taking Wednesday’s eighth-inning gamble, but that’s a mighty big roll of the dice. Danks got beat on his 120th pitch against a hitter in Hamilton who had owned him in the past. Hamilton was 7-for-16 against Danks with a home run entering the contest, not bothered by the lefty-on-lefty battle.

“Tonight you’re just looking at what you see, and you take what you’ve seen tonight, the way he’s thrown, a veteran guy,” Ventura said. “He’s pretty up front when he’s feeling good and when he’s not.

“Tonight, that pitch got him. But he pitched a great game.”

With the inexperienced Eric Surkamp as the only left-handed reliever at his disposal -- and the bullpen playing musical chairs now that Ronald Belisario has been removed from the closer role -- Ventura’s line of thinking wasn’t all that hard to read, even if he wouldn’t admit it.

“I don’t think so, just seeing what is happening,” Ventura said when asked if he would have made a different decision with a bullpen less in flux. “[Zach Putnam] didn’t throw [Tuesday], Jake [Petricka] threw a couple innings, so we were trying to hold him back somewhat.

“If we had to, [Hamilton] was going to be the last guy and we would go to Putnam for that next out and then the next inning. [Danks] was going to pitch that regardless of how it was going for the pen.”

Sure, sometimes players need to be saved from themselves, and it can be a manager’s toughest call. But a little belief can go a long way, too, even if there were other motivators involved in the decision.

“Any win's a good win,” a beaming Danks said afterward. “It's fun to watch these guys go to battle. It was kind of a punch in the gut when Hamilton hit the homer, but it seems like it didn't really faze these guys too much. I was glad to be a part of it and happy that the guys rallied in the ninth.”

While Danks didn’t get the victory, it was yet another solid outing from the left-hander who seems revitalized. He tied a career high with 10 strikeouts and has a 3.20 ERA over his last six starts.

Any doubt or uncertainty that Danks had after shoulder surgery two years ago is gone, and knowing he can throw 120 pitches in an outing helps in that department, as well.

Is it surprising to throw 120 pitches?

“Feeling how I feel, it doesn't surprise me at all,” Danks said. “I'm happy to do it and actually want to do it. I'm glad to be able to be sent back out there with 100-plus pitches. I hope the next time it turns out a little better.”

Extra Bases: Danks carries momentum

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
8:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO –- The John Danks train has some pretty good momentum now and will get a chance to hit another gear Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Angels.

Just under two years shy of his shoulder surgery, Danks has found a pitching style that suits him and is finally looking like the pitcher who signed a five-year, $65 million deal before the 2012 season.

Danks is now 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA over his last five starts, a shift that came with a few slight mechanical changes as well as a shift more toward the third-base side of the pitching rubber.

Home has really been Danks’ haven this year. He is 4-2 at U.S. Cellular Field this season with a 2.77 ERA in eight outings.

With some uncertainty at the back end of the White Sox’s rotation, it’s up to Danks, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana to steady things and all three have been dependable most of the season.

Against the Angels in his career, Danks has been better than his 3-4 record in 10 starts might indicate. The left-hander has a 3.20 career ERA against the American League West club in 64 2/3 innings.

Read all about it: Here is the Rapid Reaction from the 8-4 defeat to the Angels in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Jose Abreu is doing plenty for the White Sox, but he can’t do it all. Here is the Rapid Reaction from the 7-5 defeat in Game 2.

Keep an eye on this: Danks is just three starts shy of 200 for his career.

Question of the day: Are there lineup changes manage Robin Ventura could employ to get a better offensive flow?

Rapid Reaction: Angels 7, White Sox 5 (Game 2)

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
11:03
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox were swept in a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, dropping Game 2 by a 7-5 score.

How it happened: White Sox starter Scott Carroll gave up three runs in the second inning and the White Sox never recovered. Conor Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo hit home runs to help a comeback bid that ultimately fell short. Gillaspie also added an RBI single. Carroll gave up seven runs on 10 hits over six innings with three walks.

What it means: The White Sox have been unable to solve the riddle that is the Angels this season. After getting swept in a series in Anaheim, California, in early June, the White Sox dropped Tuesday’s doubleheader to go 0-5 against the Angels, with Wednesday’s game the last of the season between the two teams. The entire American League West has once again been a problem for the White Sox, who now have a 3-11 record against that division.

Outside the box: With a first-inning single, Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 16 games. It is now the longest active hitting streak in the major leagues. The streak also matches the previous longest hitting streak from a White Sox rookie, set by Ross Gload to end the 2004 season.

Offbeat: Despite a standout offensive season in which he has batted over .300 all year, Gillaspie has not shown much power. Tuesday’s home run in Game 2 was his first of the season. He does have two triples and 19 doubles. Gillaspie hit 13 home runs in 134 games last season.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (7-6, 4.26 ERA) to the mound Wednesday in the finale of the three-game series. The Angels will counter with left-hander Tyler Skaggs (4-4, 4.34) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Rapid Reaction: Angels 8, White Sox 4 (Game 1)

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
7:21
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox dropped the opener of a doubleheader, a three-game series and a six-game homestand with an 8-4 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

How it happened: White Sox starter Hector Noesi went on a rocky ride, delivering four hitless innings but walking seven with seven strikeouts. He ended up allowing five runs in five innings. The White Sox took an early 3-0 lead on Jose Abreu’s 26th home run, but Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton all added home runs for the Angels. Angels starter Garrett Richards settled down to give up three runs on two hits over eight innings with nine strikeouts.

What it means: After Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks, the White Sox’s rotation offers little stability. Noesi has been a nice find off the waiver wire, but it’s clear that the back end of the rotation is an area the White Sox will look to shore up moving forward. While it has been impressive to see how Noesi turned himself from a reliever to a starter on the fly, it’s hard to expect consistency on an outing-by-outing basis.

Outside the box: Abreu became the first player in major league history to hit 26 home runs in his first 70 games. He entered leading the major leagues in slugging percentage (.625), home run ratio (10.88) and RBI ratio (4.25). He also moved back into a tie for the AL home run lead with the Orioles’ Nelson Cruz.

Offbeat: Trout, Pujols and Hamilton are supposed to be the power hitters who put a charge in the Angels, but the combination hasn’t always worked in conjunction for various reasons that include injury and inconsistencies. Tuesday was just the second time that all three hit home runs in the same game. They also did it against the Kansas City Royals in a May game last season.

Up next: In the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the White Sox will send right-hander Scott Carroll (2-4, 4.76 ERA) to the mound to face Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (8-6, 3.33).

Rain forces White Sox-Angels twin bill

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
8:00
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The opener to the Chicago White Sox's six-game homestand will have to wait a day after Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels was postponed by rain.

The teams are now scheduled to play a straight doubleheader starting at 4:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday.

Scheduled starting pitchers Hector Noesi of the White Sox and Garrett Richards of the Angels will now pitch in Tuesday's first game. In Game 2, the White Sox’s Scott Carroll will face off against the Angels’ Jered Weaver.

The Angels will make one rotation change. Instead of starting right-hander Matt Shoemaker in Wednesday's game, they will go with left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who is coming off the disabled list. The White Sox are staying with John Danks for Wednesday's game.

The White Sox are coming off an 11-game road trip, their longest of the season, and are set to play the Angels for three games and the Seattle Mariners for three starting Friday. After struggling to start the trip, the White Sox won their final three games, all at Toronto.

Series preview: Angels at White Sox

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
11:58
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Despite coming off a road trip that was an overall struggle with a 4-7 record, the Chicago White Sox managed to gain a little momentum heading into a six-game homestand.

They will open a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field against the Los Angeles Angels having won each of the last three games at Toronto, including a 4-0 victory Sunday against former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, who entered the contest with 10 victories, one off the American League lead.

The White Sox have fought inconsistency all season while compiling a 39-44 record, not uncommon for a team that had a roster rebuild in the offseason. The White Sox have had stretches where the offense was strong, the pitching staff was dominating and the bullpen was solid, but have yet to put all phases of their game together at the same time.

Of concern for a second consecutive season is a defense that is 27th out of 30 major league teams with 58 errors, and 25th in fielding percentage (.982).

Even when the bullpen was having success it was never completely settled in the closer’s role. Matt Lindstrom struggled early and when he finally started to turn things around, he was lost for an extended period with an ankle injury. Ronald Belisario, who was shaky as Lindstrom’s replacement, has been removed from the role.

The White Sox are set to go with a closer-by-committee situation, but that is a delicate proposition since it pulls pitchers like Zach Putnam, Daniel Webb and Jake Petricka from spots where they have been able to establish themselves.

Despite losing two out of three games at Kansas City this weekend, the Angels have won eight of their last 11.

HEAD TO HEAD

Adam Dunn has a home run against every Angels starter in the upcoming series. ... Dayan Viciedo is 2-for-2 against Angels starter Garrett Richards in his career. ... Paul Konerko doesn’t start often these days, and he certainly isn’t expected to play Tuesday against Angels starter Jered Weaver since he is 2-for-22 (.091) against the right-hander. ... Members of the White Sox roster are a combined 9-for-23 (.409) with three doubles and a home run against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker. ... No Angels batter has a home run off White Sox starter Hector Noesi in 47 at-bats, while Albert Pujols is just 1-for-9 against the right-hander. ... White Sox pitcher Scott Carroll gave up just one run on two hits over 4 1/3 innings in an extended relief outing June 6 against the Angels. ... The Angels’ Erick Aybar is just 3-for-23 (.130) against White Sox starter John Danks, but Josh Hamilton is 7-for-16 (.438) with a home run in the lefty-lefty matchup.

NOTES


When the Angels swept a three-game series in California, June 6-8, they outscored the White Sox 19-11. ... A total of 10 of the last 12 White Sox games have been decided by two runs or less. ... The White Sox are 21-18 in home games, but have gone 18-26 in games on the road after posting a 4-7 mark on their just-concluded three-city road trip to Minnesota, Baltimore and Toronto. ... The White Sox are just 3-9 against American League West teams this season. ... The White Sox are an even 13-13 during the first game of a series this year and are 9-14-2 in overall series this season. ... Pujols has a swollen lymph gland in the area of his right groin, but is expected to be in the lineup. ... The Angels have won six of their last eight games at U.S. Cellular Field. ... Richards, who will start for the Angels on Monday night, is 4-0 in five June starts with a 1.05 ERA.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Monday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (2-5, 5.07 ERA) vs. Angels RH Garrett Richards (8-2, 2.76), 7:10 p.m. CST
Tuesday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (2-4, 4.76) vs. Angels RH Jered Weaver (8-6, 3.33), 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox LH John Danks (7-6, 4.26) vs. Angels RH Matt Shoemaker (5-2, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. CST

Series preview: White Sox at Twins

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
3:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
If the Chicago White Sox want to make a mark on the bunched up American League Central, now would be a good time to do it.

The White Sox open a four-game series at Minnesota on Thursday night and then won’t see another division team until they close out the first half with a July 11-13 series at Cleveland. Between the division series, the White Sox will face the Orioles, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners and Red Sox.

The 35-37 White Sox are two games better in the standings than the 32-38 Twins, and while the offenses have proven to be much different, the pitching staffs have delivered like numbers.

The White Sox are fourth in the AL with 319 runs scored, while the Twins are ninth at 297. On the pitching side, the Twins have a 4.32 ERA (13th in the AL), while the White Sox have a 4.35 mark (14th). White Sox starters are last in the AL with a combined 4.69 ERA, while the Twins are tied for 13th at 4.67.

The Twins make up their offensive difference with the White Sox by committing 14 less errors and holding a .985 fielding percentage to the White Sox’s .980 mark.

But the White Sox head to Target Field knowing they have had a fair amount of success there in recent years. Since Aug. 5, 2011, the White Sox are 18-8 at Minnesota, although they were just 5-5 there last year. The series will be the White Sox’s first of three visits to Target Field in the final 3 months of the season.

HEAD TO HEAD

Alexei Ramirez is 6-for-10 (.600) against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco with six RBIs. ... Adam Dunn has six hits in 23 at-bats against Twins starter Kevin Correia and three of those hits have been home runs. ... Gordon Beckham is just 1-for-14 (.071) against Twins starter Phil Hughes, while Moises Sierra is 7-for-14 (.500) against him with five RBIs. No White Sox player has more hits against Hughes than Sierra. ... The Twins’ Joe Mauer is 7-for-15 (.467) against Jose Quintana with two home runs, while Josh Willingham is 8-for-15 (.533) against the left-hander. ... The Twins’ Kendrys Morales is 3-for-5 in his career against Hector Noesi with two home runs. ... The Twins are the only American League Central team Andre Rienzo doesn’t have a decision against. He has a 3.97 ERA against them in two starts (11 1/3 innings). ... Mauer is 20-for-53 (3.77) in his career against John Danks, but Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham are a combined 5-for-38 (.132) against the lefty.

NOTES


The White Sox were one game from a three-game sweep in the opening series of the season, but lost the finale 10-9. ... The White Sox are 18-10 against the Twins at Target Field since 2010. ... Ronald Belisario, who has been the White Sox’s closer since Matt Lindstrom was injured in mid-May, has converted his last four save opportunities. ... Dunn has reached base in 50 of his 60 games this season. ... Conor Gillaspie is batting .364 (36-for-99) over his last 25 games and has five multi-hit efforts over his last 10 games. ... Tyler Flowers was hitless in 25 at-bats before his two-run single Wednesday against the Giants. ... Adam Eaton has reached base in 13 consecutive games and is batting .333 (17-for-51) over that stretch. ... At age 30, the Twins’ Yohan Pino, will be the oldest starting pitcher to make his major league debut in franchise history when he takes the mound Thursday. The right-hander was 9-1 with a 1.92 ERA at Triple-A Rochester. ... Former White Sox prospect Eduardo Escobar is batting .303 with a .349 on-base percentage in 58 games for the Twins.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Thursday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (3-7, 3.98 ERA) vs. Twins RH Yohan Pino (MLB debut), 7:10 p.m. CST
Friday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (2-5, 5.37) vs. Twins RH Ricky Nolasco (4-5, 5.66), 7:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox RH Andre Rienzo (4-4, 5.67) vs. Twins RH Kevin Correia (3-8, 5.29), 1:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH John Danks (6-5, 3.97) vs. Twins RH Phil Hughes (7-3, 3.09) 1:10 p.m. CST

Confident Danks rolling right along

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
11:39
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- John Danks admitted Tuesday that his long road to recovery was cratered with potholes of doubt, threatening to strip him of the confidence that had served him so well.

The Chicago White Sox's left-hander never wanted to feel sorry for himself because he had to undergo shoulder surgery, since many pitchers before him went through the same issue.

But when a long rehab process turned into struggles last year, followed by inconsistencies at the start of 2014, he couldn’t help but think he might be one of those who doesn’t make it all the way back.

[+] EnlargeJohn Danks
AP Photo/Andrew A. NellesRecent mechanical adjustments and a shift to the third-base side of the rubber are helping John Danks this season.
If the past five starts are any indicator, Danks is back and as good as ever.

The left-hander went 6⅔ innings Tuesday, giving up just one earned run in an 8-2 White Sox victory over the San Francisco Giants. Over his past five outings, going back to an eight-inning scoreless outing against the New York Yankees on May 24, he has a 1.51 ERA.

“It’s been a long, frustrating road to get back to here and certainly there’s plenty to be worked on, but yeah, there were some days where you were having to fight doubt from creeping in,” Danks said. “I think I’m beyond that.”

Recent mechanical adjustments and a shift to the third-base side of the rubber have made all the difference. The better mechanics have led to better results and now Danks has a renewed sense of confidence at his disposal as well.

“You get on a nice little run, it’s a lot more fun to go out and pitch,” he said. “Certainly the adjustments we’ve made have helped and guys scoring runs have helped. I’m just gonna continue to ride it.”

Gordon Beckham was only happy to hit a two-run home run in the third inning that helped to erase an early Giants lead.

“It's awesome,” Beckham said. “He's been throwing great, and he's a great guy in the clubhouse, so he's one of those people that you cheer for and want to do well. To see him doing what he's capable of, it's nice.”

Chris Sale and Jose Quintana might have a higher profile in the White Sox’s rotation, but it was Danks who outdueled the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander last week and it was Danks who stopped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday.

“He has really gotten it together, from where he started early in the year, the frustrations he had, some mechanical stuff that you start with and then it becomes mental and all the physical stuff that comes with it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He has pitched to where he’s always giving us a chance right now. He becomes tough when he has the feel of the changeup like that and spotting his fastball. It just seems like he has a little more on it as far as spotting his fastball.”

Things tend to come a lot easier in baseball when you’re able to just think about baseball.

“I haven’t thought about [surgery] once,” Danks said. “I’m not the first guy to go through surgery. That’s certainly not a crutch for me. I feel like I can give us a chance to win every time out. I’m trying to do that.”

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 8, Giants 2

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
10:04
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox ended a four-game losing streak with an 8-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

How it happened: The White Sox didn’t let an early deficit get to them, erupting on offense in the middle innings. Gordon Beckham got the offense started with a two-run home run in the third inning. The White Sox scored three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. Dayan Viciedo capped the scoring with a mammoth two-run home run in the fifth. John Danks gave up just one earned run in 6 1/3 innings. Giants starter Matt Cain gave up eight runs (seven earned) in five innings.

What it means: Danks has been rolling over his past five starts, not giving up more than two earned runs in any of them. The left-hander has a 1.51 ERA over that stretch and is 3-1 with a no decision in a May 24 outing against the Yankees when he didn’t allow a run over eight innings.

Outside the box: Bench coach Mark Parent appeared to have a discussion with Jose Abreu on the bench in the seventh inning. Abreu struck out and then didn’t run to first base despite the fact that the ball got past Giants catcher Hector Sanchez and rolled to the backstop. On Sunday it appeared that Abreu failed to run out a pop up along the first-base line earning another conversation with Parent.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (5-1, 1.97 ERA) to the mound Wednesday in the finale of the brief two-game series. The Giants will counter with right-hander Tim Hudson (7-2, 1.81) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Series preview: Giants at White Sox

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
12:29
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – The challenges only get tougher for the struggling Chicago White Sox as the team with the best record in baseball comes to town.

The San Francisco Giants will open a brief two-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night, carrying a 43-27 record into the game, one full game better than Oakland’s 42-28 mark.

The White Sox have lost four consecutive games and seven of their last nine, as a once thriving offense has hit a snag. The White Sox managed to get runners on base during this past weekend’s sweep by the Kansas City Royals, but they had just three hits with runners in scoring position during the three games.

The two games against the Giants mark the end of a scheduled nine-game homestand. One game was rained out, leaving the White Sox with a 2-4 record in their own ballpark since last Monday.

The idea was that the White Sox could get healthy during a string of home games before departing on a three-city, 11-game trip that starts Thursday and will take them to Minnesota, Baltimore and Toronto. Another issue is that the White Sox are starting a string 16 consecutive games without a day off.

The next two-plus weeks will provide a stern test for the White Sox’s much-improved bullpen, which has a 2.56 ERA since May 26 (17 games).

HEAD TO HEAD


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The Giants’ Marco Scutaro is 7-for-13 (.538) with two home runs in his career against White Sox starter John Danks. … The only Giants players with an at-bat against White Sox starter Chris Sale are Gregor Blanco and Michael Morse, with Morse going 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. … Adam Dunn is 6-for-20 (.300) with two home runs against Giants starter Matt Cain. Adam Eaton is 0-for-8 against Cain, but he does have five walks. … Dunn is 11-for-34 (.324) with four home runs against Giants starter Tim Hudson, while Paul Konerko is 7-for-19 (.368) against him with one home run. Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-5 against Hudson with a double and two walks.

NOTES



The White Sox are 8-8 in interleague play this season, but just 3-5 in home games against National League teams. … The White Sox are now a season-high four games under .500 at 33-37. … The White Sox have been swept twice in their past three series by the Los Angeles Angels and the Kansas City Royals. … The White Sox left 32 runners on base during the sweep by the Royals. … Eaton has been hot, reaching base in 11 consecutive games, including all five trips to the plate Friday and four out of his five trips Sunday. He has three triples in his last six games. … Reliever Zach Putnam has a 0.86 ERA over his last 17 outings (15 scoreless). … After taking a foul ball off the mask twice in in a five-day stretch, Giants catcher Buster Posey was removed from Sunday’s game. … White Sox starters Sale and Jose Quintana know all about the issues Cain has been going through, as the right-hander has pitched well but has received minimal run support since April 23.

PITCHING MATCHUPS


Tuesday: LHP John Danks (5-5, 4.17 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Cain (1-4, 3.84), 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: LHP Chris Sale (5-1, 1.97) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (7-2, 1.81), 1:10 p.m. CST

Rapid Reaction: Royals 6, White Sox 3

June, 15, 2014
Jun 15
4:38
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The White Sox fell 6-3 to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday and were swept in a series for the second time this month.

How it happened: Home runs from Eric Hosmer (two-run) and Salavador Perez (three-run) helped the Royals to the victory. Andre Rienzo gave up six runs on six hits over six innings and added another four walks to boot. Adam Eaton opened with a leadoff triple and scored in the first inning, but the White Sox couldn’t keep pace despite 12 hits. Alejandro De Aza had a two-run double. The White Sox left 13 runners on base.

What it means: The White Sox are now a season-worst four games under .500 at 33-37. They had been three games under on three separate occasions, but each time they managed to win a game. It certainly could be worse, though. After a June 15 defeat to the Houston Astros last season, the White Sox fell to nine games under at 28-37 on their way to a 63-99 final record (36 games under).

Outside the box: A rainout last week gave the White Sox the opportunity to straighten out Rienzo, but the right-hander’s struggles continued. In his first start since June 6, Rienzo was only slightly better than he was while giving up seven runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels. After starting the season 4-0, Rienzo has a 9.00 ERA over his last four starts, all defeats.

Off beat:
Eaton prides himself on being the fly in the ointment and he was a real pest in the first inning Sunday. His ground ball ate up Hosmer at first base and rolled into the right-field corner, sending him off to the races. He ended up on third base and was generously credited with a triple on what looked to be an error. At third, he coaxed a pickoff throw from pitcher James Shields that ended up being a run-scoring balk. And to make Eaton’s pesky ways complete, it all ended with Royals manager Ned Yost getting ejected for arguing the balk call.

Up next: After a day off Monday, the White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (5-5, 4.17 ERA) to the mound Tuesday to face San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain (1-4, 3.84) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Confident White Sox not drawn to standings

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
12:32
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- There are not too many races in which the competition waits around for you to catch up. The American League Central, however, has been setting itself up that way.

The Chicago White Sox’s 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday gave them a 33-33 record, but the real news is that the win moved them within 2½ games of the Tigers for the division lead.

The White Sox have been inconsistent all season as they mix and match their new parts. But with Jose Abreu and Chris Sale together and healthy on the roster at the same time, the White Sox look as though they finally are ready to stand up and get noticed.

[+] EnlargeJohn Danks
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesThe White Sox can credit a portion of their turnaround to John Danks, who has enjoyed four impressive starts in a row.
Abreu hit his 19th home run Wednesday -- and the second dinger off Tigers starter Justin Verlander this season -- and Sale gets a chance to pitch against Detroit on Thursday.

It doesn’t hurt that the Tigers have cooled off considerably after a hot start. Detroit has lost 16 of its past 22 games. There are no standout teams in the division thus far, but nobody has fallen out of contention, either.

All five AL Central teams are within 3½ games of each other, giving every squad hope that an extended run of victories can lead to a turn in first place.

For a team coming off a 99-loss season like the White Sox, nobody would blame them for feeling downright giddy. But even with the reversal of fortunes, nobody is ready to brag about the standings at this point of the season.

“We’ve had a good feeling,” second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “I don’t think it’s been one of those things where we’re just now thinking we can do this. We show up to play. We don’t expect to win the division today or tomorrow.

“We just kind of figured, you keep coming to the park, you keep doing the right things, good things will happen. I think that’s kind of where we’re at, and we’re getting some wins against a good team. We’re in a good spot.”

Beckham has been a huge part of the White Sox’s solid play. He had just one hit Wednesday, but it was a two-run single in a seven-run sixth inning that knocked Verlander from the game.

Verlander, who was tagged for seven runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, has been a shell of his former self. A previous Cy Young winner, Verlander lasted less than six innings against the White Sox for the first time since July 26, 2008, at Comerica Park. His four walks gave him consecutive games of four free passes for the first time this season.

White Sox starter John Danks has been the opposite. Like Beckham, he has been a part of the White Sox’s revival of late with a fourth consecutive impressive start. The left-hander gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings and is 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA since May 24; opponents are hitting .178 against him over that stretch.

Danks agrees that it is far too early to get excited about having a decent vantage point to see the division leaders floundering just up the road.

“Yeah, we've had a good feeling from the get [go],” Danks said. “We're not looking at the scoreboard just yet or the standings; we're just trying to win every game we can. Nothing's changed. We've been a pretty confident bunch from the start of it and fully expect to be in the thick of it when the time comes.”

The last time the White Sox held a .500 record was May 26, 2013, when they were 24-24. They promptly lost eight consecutive games and 10 out of 11. And on June 11 of last year, exactly one year ago Wednesday, they started another tailspin, losing seven of eight.

At that point in 2013, there was nowhere to look but at upcoming trade possibilities. This year, there is a sense of optimism for a brighter future, even with a roster rebuild that isn’t quite complete.

Things are so much brighter these days that White Sox manager Robin Ventura was able to joke about a reminder from last season.

“Thanks, thanks for that,” he deadpanned. “Appreciate that. Always bring up the negative, don’t you? Just go right there. It was a nice win by us and you go right there.”

Teasing, laughing and maintaining a healthy amount of confidence is another sign of how good the White Sox are feeling these days.

“No, early on just playing there is a different vibe,” Ventura said. “When you’re able to score runs, it becomes different. There are different people here.

“There are quite a few people in there who didn’t have to live through last year. But the ones who did have to live through it, it was painful enough that you don’t want to see it happen again.”

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.287 28 71 48
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 28
RBIJ. Abreu 71
RJ. Abreu 48
OPSJ. Abreu .960
WJ. Danks 8
ERAC. Sale 2.08
SOJ. Quintana 107