Danks overcomes slow start to season

CHICAGO -- After a dreadful 0-8 start to the season, White Sox lefty John Danks seems to have turned a corner. Danks has posted a 2.32 ERA in his 10 starts since earning his first victory on June 6th. His manager Ozzie Guillen had a simple explanation for Danks’ turnaround.

“Strikes. He throw more strikes,” Guillen said. “I think he throw the breaking ball, his changeup was working pretty good today. When he’s got his changeup plus his cutter working, and you take [Ian] Kinsler out of the lineup, it was a tremendous game.”

Guillen’s assessment couldn’t have been more accurate, Danks threw 81 of his 107 pitches for strikes as he walked none and struck out five in his seven dazzling innings. Danks’ only struggles came against Kinsler, who had three hits against the lefty, including two solo home runs which accounted for the Rangers only runs of the game.

“He and I are close, played a lot together in the minor leagues,” Danks said of Kinsler, recalling their days in the Rangers’ system. “We keep in touch, I’ll have to talk to him tonight, for sure.”

Danks said he felt great all game and actually seemed to get stronger as the innings went by. He also credited his catcher Tyler Flowers for calling a great game.

Reliever Sergio Santos came in for the ninth to earn the save. Santos retired the first batter on ground out, but after Mike Napoli reached on an Adam Dunn error, Santos didn’t take any more chances, striking out the next two batters to seal the White Sox victory.

“I've been there as a shortstop making an error for my pitcher,” the former infielder said. “So I just kind of told myself I'm going to pick him up here and do what I can to make sure the run doesn't score. I took it in my head as if I gave up a hit and kind of took that approach.”

The White Sox's up-and-down ways have been a perplexing part of the season; they’ve followed almost every hot streak with a cold streak. The most recent example of the White Sox's inconsistencies was displayed as they won 9 of 11 games, only to drop three straight.

“This might be the most emotionally draining team to be a part of because we get glimpses of the team that we are and then for whatever reason we get ten games where we're not playing anywhere near where we should be playing,” Santos said after his team snapped the three-game skid. “So it's tough and that’s the grind of a long season. The light at the end of the tunnel is that we're still in it and we're not out of it and we can still pick it up in this last month and get us in the playoffs.”

With the first-place Detroit Tigers winning on Saturday night as well, the White Sox remained five games back sitting in third place. Danks agreed that the up and down season had worn on them all, but said he’s been a believer in this team since day one and felt no different now.

“We’re in position, we’re close enough now that we can make a move,” Danks said. “But we’re running out of time to make that move.”