For the first time all season, John Danks learned what it was like to pitch with a lead at the big league level. Even though he left with the Sox down by 2, you had to be impressed by the effort.
The offense may have shown up for the first time in a game started by Danks, but the defense was not up to par while he was on the mound. Danks was able to pitch over a failed double play, but he would exit in the 5th when the defense turned a routine play into runs.
With 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, Danks induced a high pop-up behind short from Magglio Ordonez. Juan Uribe raced under it, waved his arms as if to call off all other fielders, then at the last second he ran away from the ball as fast as he could. The runners were moving since there were 2 outs, leaving runners at 2nd and 3rd, and a tie game. Danks gave up a single through the hole to the next batter, and was given the hook by Ozzie.
Normally we mock Aaron Rowand's mythical status around here, but I'll say this without fear of hyperbole; Those three 5th inning runs wouldn't have scored with Aaron Rowand in CF. In his last couple years here, he didn't let silly hand motions from some infielder coming into his outfield stop him from trying to catch a ball.
Judging by the way all three players reacted, I'd have to say that Uribe probably mistook some crowd noise -- it was a Standing Room Only crowd at Comerica Friday -- for one of his outfielders calling for the ball. The reactions of Erstad and Mackowiak as the ball landed between all three defenders made it pretty clear that neither had called off Uribe.
That lone play is the difference between Danks current ERA of 5.06 and his theoretical ERA of 3.31 if Uribe doesn't hear any ghostly footsteps.
The offense scored 3 runs via the ball-in-play versus 2 runs via the home run. I've got nothing against home runs, but the Sox success this season will not be determined by their ability to hit the longball. We all know they're going to hit HRs. They have to be able to string together hits, and make the most out of rallies. 3 runs via the ball-in-play matches their total from the previous 4 games. I'll take it. Baby steps.
The bullpen continues to be huge strength.
- Masset bridged the gap after the short start from Danks.
- Aardsma looks like he'll give Ozzie 4 guys who are capable of closing in an emergency.
- Ozzie got handedness happy in the 8th, but Thornton and MacDougal didn't make him pay for burning through his bullpen. (It will happen sometime this season. We'll be going to the 10th tied with only Masset and Sisco left, and the other team holding onto their closer.)
- Jenks was 92-94 with his fastball one day after touching 95.
I was very happy with his pitch selection to Gary Sheffield. If Bobby isn't going to touch the high-90's, there's no reason for Sheff to see anything but breaking balls and off-speed stuff. I don't care what his average is right now. That guy can hit fastballs.
I'm going to miss the game Saturday. -- I don't even know what time it starts. -- So you guys are on your own for gamethreads and recaps. Don't trash the place.