US Cellular Field saw a rarity, or at least what feels like a rarity, Wednesday night, a pitcher's duel. The Sox pitching as a whole has struggled since the beginning of July. In fact, only once since July 1st have they held an opponent to one run or less. John Danks and the bullpen made it twice, and did it in half the time of last nights marathon affair.
Danks needed to give the bullpen a break after they went 10 innings yesterday, and he was up to the task from the very first inning. He needed just 8 pitches to get three consecutive groundouts to Juan Uribe in the first, and cruised through the early innings thanks to an excellent changeup. His change was so good Wednesday that he ditched his breaking ball altogether, going exclusively with fastball, cutter, change. (Watching CSN's SportsNight as I'm writing this. Toby said Danks' curve was crap in the bullpen, so he didn't call one all game.)
Justin Verlander had an answer for Danks most of the night, at one point retiring 12 White Sox batters in a row, but the Sox got to him on the bookends. In the first, Jim Thome tagged a 3-run shot to left-center for his 6th career HR off Verlander. Carlos Quentin did a great job making sure Thome got to the plate with men on base; first getting the Sox first hit of the night on a 0-2 pitch, then breaking up what looked to be a sure double play with a hard slide at second base. Were it not for the slide, Jermaine Dye would have been out at first easily. In the 8th, as Verlander reached well into the triple digits, Dye redeemed himself by inciting a 2-out rally with a double down the right field line. Verlander intentionally walked Thome, for obvious reasons, to get to Paul Konerko, who had to earn his way on with a 7-pitch walk to chase Verlander at 130 pitches.
Alexei Ramirez capped the sox 2-out rally to provide the much-needed insurance runs with a single off Verlander's replacement, Aquilino Lopez, before getting caught in a rundown between first and second. All of the Sox runs came with 2-outs, so it really was a rare night at USCF. Ramirez' hit was huge because of the obvious--there is a world of difference between a single or a walk bringing the tying run to the plate versus a 3 (singles or walks)-- and the Tigers had the heart of the order due up in the 9th.
I thought Joey Cora pulled Danks at least one batter too soon--I would have liked to seen him work into the 8th to really give the pen the night off--but his last pitch was a truly terrible pitch. With Magglio Ordonez in scoring position, Danks seemed to be working Gary Sheffield over when Toby Hall called for a high--out of the zone high--fastball. Danks grooved one down the middle, thigh high, and he was lucky Sheffield only stroked it for a double. In hindsight, it might have been an inspired pull by Cora, but it felt a little quick to me.
In the interest of keeping the front page a little cleaner, I'm going to implement a new way to deal with the overflow gamethreads. We'll still use them, but as soon as the recap goes up, assuming there is a recap, I'll demote the overflow threads from the front page. (So Stop re-promoting them, Wiz.) The site looked a little ridiculous yesterday with 5 threads taking up prime content real estate. They'll still be fully accessible, but they won't be as visible once the recap goes up.
From now on, once the recap goes up the old gamethreads will be available in two places, one on the right sidebar and one on the left. On the right, there is box below the FanShots listing the last three gamethreads. On the left, there is the link cleverly titled "Game Threads" in the Sections box that will take you to a page that has nothing but the latest gamethreads. Hopefully, the cleaner front page will prompt more posting from Colin and Shaftr, wink, wink.