The White Sox offense has scored more runs than anyone in baseball so far. John Danks started the year with a 2.84 ERA in his first four starts. Both feats are the product of hard work and skill and should be commended. Both also were aided by great luck with balls in play, with the Sox hitting .329 coming into Saturday night when they put balls in play, and hitters Danks opposed hitting just .244. Both ran into quite a reckoning Saturday night.
Danks, facing the same shoddy control he's dealt with all year, labored enormously and was chased with two outs in the sixth at 123 pitches and with a 4-0 deficit that would double as the final score, and the Sox got shutout on five hits despite not recording a until the seventh inning against Cesar Ramos & Co.
2010 John Danks is never walking through that door, but in striking out four, he flashed some of the jamming cutter, and decent run on his fastball that could work well with the control-focused approach he trotted out in 2013. Unfortunately he did not have anything resembling control Saturday night.
Danks walked the first batter of the game. He walked Logan Forsythe in the second and watched him score alongside James Loney when Ryan Hanigan ripped a cutter that didn't get in down the line for a two-run double. He extended the third inning by walking Sean Rodriguez, before allowing a two-out RBI single from James Loney. And he handed a two-out walk to Ben Zobrist when he was on the cusp of dragging himself to a quality start, and also saw him score when Desmond Jennings' bomb to the center field wall dribble out of Adam Eaton's glove.
While Danks was struggling to scrap together a winnable game between walks and just-missed-it flyouts, the Sox offense that draped itself in heroics Friday made little use of Tampa rotation fill-in Cesar Ramos. Ramos does not and clearly did not have much to fool hitterd with, and clearly does not have much trust from Tampa management that gleefully yanked him after he stole five shutout innings.
The Sox chopped out harmlessly early and often on the lefty's change-up. He left after only throwing 65 pitches through five, the last of which was the third groundout he coaxed out of Jose Abreu, who strode to the plate in the fifth with two outs and the bases loaded, but looked too eager to recreate Friday's magic, waving crazily at a straight-change before beating another one in the dirt to third. This was still a more lively contribution than Adam Eaton gave on the night, as he managed to tap out to the pitcher three times.
Brandon Gomes came on and gave the Rays three innings of perfect relief before Juan Carlos Oviedo pitched over a leadoff walk to Dayan Viciedo for a scoreless ninth. Hector Noesi made his White Sox debut and did a decent job getting four outs without being smoked, even flashing a decent slider to strike out Logan Forsythe to end the seventh. Buried in all of this was an otherworldly outing from Scott Downs, who pitched a scoreless eighth before walking off the mound shaking his hand and looking troubled. He still came back out for the ninth and racked up two more strikeouts with a hellacious, looping curve.
If only he could start tomorrow. Instead, the Sox will be taking their chances with this: