If nothing else, tonight's game verified the hierarchy of the pitching staff.
John Danks' two starts are the two worst thrown by a White Sox starter this year, but a couple things covered for him:
- The front end of the bullpen pitched worse.
- A Brett Lawrie two-run homer was the only offense.
Neither of Danks' two outings have qualified as quality starts, but with only three runs of support combined, he'd have to do a lot better than quality to get something out of it.
Granted, Danks was frustrating, even if it was more useful than his first outing. He gave up five runs over 6⅓ innings, and four of them with two outs. Long balls also played a sizable role. Brandon Guyer hit a 1-0 changeup over the short wall in left for a solo shot with two outs in the third. One inning later, Brad Miller turned on a 1-0 fastball and crushed it out to right center for a two-run homer and a 4-0 lead -- again with two outs.
That ended up being more runs in four innings than the Sox had at-bats with runners in scoring position all night. Erasmo Ramirez shut out the Sox over 5⅔ innings, and needed just 66 pitches to do so. He looked like he had plenty left in the tank, but Kevin Cash, as usual, pulled the pitcher before facing the heart of the order for the third time.
The strategy looked like it might briefly play into the Sox' hands. In the seventh, Melky Cabrera smacked a single to left off Steve Geltz, and Brett Lawrie followed with a bomb to left that cut the Rays' lead in half.
Sox pitching couldn't hold it there. Danks' night ended with a one-out walk, and Jake Petricka made Robin Ventura wish he stuck with Danks instead. Petricka walked the next two batters, and just when it looked like he might escape after a shallow flyout from Steve Pearce, Evan Longoria came through with a run-scoring single to push the Sox back.
The Sox didn't threaten again. Rays pitching limited them to seven hits and one HBP. They were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
Zach Putnam ended up finishing the seventh for Petricka, but he started the eighth by giving up a solo shot to Desmond Jennings, and Dan Jennings couldn't stop the bleeding, either. Right now, there's a pretty big gulf between the high-leverage and low-leverage guys, with Zach Duke trying to carve out a spot in the middle.