John Danks is going to be scored upon in the sixth inning. It doesn't matter whether it's his fault, or even if he pitches two innings beyond. He's going to allow runs, and it's going to cost him the game, because he doesn't know how to win.
With the game tied at 1 in that fateful frame, Danks allowed a pair of runs that sealed a two-game Minnesota sweep. This is the sequence that did him in:
- A bloop single over Omar Vizquel's head.
- A sacrifice-turned-single by Matt Tolbert when Vizquel was way late covering first on the bunt to third.
- A deep flyout by Justin Morneau caught casually by Carlos Quentin on the warning track. His pause before throwing the ball back in allowed Tolbert to take second.
- A sac fly by Sox-killing Jason Kubel.
- And an RBI single by Rene Tomaso, that wouldn't have scored a run if either Vizquel or Quentin had been paying attention.
The Twins led 3-1, and the Sox could only offer a Paul Konerko sac fly in response. They did put two on with one out in the ninth, but Kubel ran down Vizquel's fly down the right-field line, and caught Juan Pierre's flyout.
And so another fine effort was wasted. Danks dropped to 0-5 on the season thanks to another sloppy attempt at support.The three non-pitching facets of baseball failed to show up.
The offense: Facing the sinkerballing Nick Blackburn, White Sox right-handed hitters didn't go the opposite way until the final three innings. Alex Rios used the entire field -- he ripped a hanging change into the White Sox bullpen, shot a single to right, and drilled a single back through the box against Matt Capps -- but nobody else picked up the hint.
The defense: Along with the sixth-inning brain farts by Vizquel and Quentin, Pierre also embarrassed himself in the second inning. Danny Valencia pulled a decent Danks changeup over the head of Mark Teahen, and it rolled into foul territory down the left-field line and under the padding.
Pierre tried to grab the ball. Then he put both hands up to signal for a dead ball. Then he put them down. Then he put one hand up, and used the other to free the ball. By the time he got it out, he gave Valencia an extra base. That's no fault of the umpire -- if Pierre is going to demand a ruling, he's got to commit to the play for more than 1.5 seconds. Danks bailed him out with a pair of weak pop-ups, stranding Valencia at third.
Baserunning: Pierre reached on an infield single to start the bottom of the first. Then he was picked off. That was the first of three outs on the basepaths. Quentin was inexplicably doubled up at first on an A.J. Pierzynski lineout to short, and Vizquel was caught stealing in the sixth.
But hey, at least they weren't no-hit.
*Danks failed to strike out a batter for only the third time in his career, and the first time since Aug. 24, 2007.
*Brent Lillibridge, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Mark Teahen in the eighth inning, ended up with two plate appearances. He was hit by pitches both times.