How it happened: John Danks couldn’t get through five innings, giving up seven runs on 12 hits and the Astros eventually avoided the series sweep. The White Sox still managed to tie the game in the sixth inning, but the Astros erupted with four runs off White Sox reliever Daniel Webb in the seventh to take the lead again. Jose Abreu had two hits in the defeat, extending his hitting streak to 11 consecutive games. He also has a hit in 29 of his last 30 contests.
What it means: Danks’ run of 10 consecutive impressive starts ended Sunday right where it began, opposite the Astros. On May 8, Danks gave up eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits in a loss at Houston. He then went on to post a 2.69 ERA and go 5-2 in outings from May 24 to July 13. Sunday’s outing was more like the Danks from early in the season when he struggled with his command and couldn’t get a good feel for his changeup.
Outside the box: Right-handed reliever Taylor Thompson made his debut for the White Sox in the fifth inning in relief of Danks. The first batter he faced was the Astros’ Robbie Grossman, who managed to bloop a single into shallow center field for an RBI single. He retired the next four batters he faced. Thompson had a 2.61 ERA in 31 appearances at Triple-A Charlotte this season.
Off beat: With two walks in his first two at-bats Sunday, Alejandro De Aza now has more free passes than Abreu. De Aza has 25 walks, while Abreu is at 23. It’s not like De Aza is averse to taking a pitch or two, since he did have 50 walks last year and 47 in 2012. Instead, this is more an indicator of how aggressive Abreu is at the plate and how he would rather deliver a big hit than work counts, which is an area of improvement the White Sox figure to target in the future.
Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (8-1, 2.08 ERA) to the mound Monday against Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series. The Royals will counter with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (5-8, 4.56) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.