Sundays are usually reserved for "Turn Back The Clock" stylings, but Saturday afternoon hosted a throwback affair for John Danks.
It had the two key ingredients for a classic Danks start:
- He pitched well.
- The offense took its sweet time showing up.
But today featured one key difference -- Danks lasted long enough to get the win. The Sox posted three runs in the bottom of the eighth, with Alex Rios delivering a go-ahead single and Paul Konerko following with a two-run homer, giving Danks his first victory since May 19, 2012.
His day started inauspiciously. He allowed a leadoff single to Coco Crisp and walked Josh Reddick to put himself in an immediate jam. Two batters later, Josh Donaldson shot an RBI single to center. Alejandro De Aza flubbed the pickup, allowing Reddick to reach third.
But Danks worked around it by getting Jed Lowrie to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. And after Nate Freiman reached with a leadoff single in the second, Danks didn't allow another baserunner. He finished eight innings having allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out six.
He and Tyler Flowers worked quickly, the definition of "get it and throw it." The A's helped, as they only made him throw 96 pitches over those eight innings. He showed strong command with his fastball, kept his changeup off the middle of the plate, and when the A's saw him for a third time, he switched to the curve. I haven't had time to look it up yet, but Danks might've thrown more curves today (13) than in any other single start.
The A's came closest to threatening him in the sixth, which is typically the John Danks Death Frame. Leading off the inning, Crisp worked a 3-1 count, and he forced Danks to make him swing the bat. Danks threw a fastball for strike two with Crisp taking all the way, then got Crisp to tap a changeup back to the mound. Danks made a nifty play with the ball at his feet for the easy first out. When Josh Reddick flied out to center with the next pitch, Danks was back to rolling.
He just couldn't get any run support, save a second-inning solo shot by Adam Dunn off Tommy Milone. Milone challenged Dunn with a fastball on a full count, and Dunn took it 429 feet just left of center to tie the game at 1.
In the seventh, Dunn led off with a single, and moved to second on Keppinger's base hit two batters later, but they still couldn't get a runner to third, as Gordon Beckham struck out and Tyler Flowers popped out.
When Milone gave way to Sean Doolittle, the offense finally found its footing. Rios certainly appreciated the pitching change, anyway.
Rios got a chance with runners in scoring position thanks to a couple breaks. First, De Aza reached on an infield "single" -- it looked like Freiman caught the ball at first with De Aza's foot a couple inches above the bag. Then, Alexei Ramirez actually executed the always-ill-advised sac bunt, to put De Aza in scoring position.
Funny thing about scoring position -- De Aza actually scored. On a 1-1 count, Rios slashed the third straight fastball he saw into right field. Joe McEwing chose to make Reddick's excellent arm throw De Aza out, but it was well up the line, and De Aza slid in safely to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Rios took second on the throw, but he jogged home when Konerko followed with a two-run homer into the White Sox bullpen.
That gave Danks a lead, and he wouldn't have to protect it. Robin Ventura turned to Addison Reed, who worked around a leadoff single by Crisp for his 18th save.
*Beckham made a nice play on Crisp in the third, ranging to his right, knocking down a hard grounder and recovering to get Crisp by a step at first.
*Dayan Viciedo fought the sun for a couple of catches in the seventh, including an awkward flopping catch. On other days, that would've been the way the Sox lost.
*Jordan Danks replaced Viciedo as a pinch runner in the eighth, and played center field in the ninth. It's the first time the Danks brothers have appeared in the same box score, although they weren't on the field at the same time.
*Here we go: