video thumbnail

Beckham gets two to end the seventh

ARLINGTON -- These are tough times for White Sox starter John Danks. The month of May is quickly coming to an end, and he has one start before the calendar turns to wipe that big fat zero out of the win column of his pitching record.

It's also an unlucky time for the left-hander. The Rangers welcomed back All-Stars Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz to their lineup from the disabled list on Monday night, and both hit home runs as the White Sox lost, 4-0, at Rangers Ballpark.

Danks fell to 0-7 with the loss in his 10th start of the season. He entered the night as one of only five pitchers in baseball with at least seven starts and zero wins. Nothing changed, even though Danks threw an eight-inning complete game.

"It's [tough] to lose," Danks said. "I feel like I'm saying the same thing after every start now. I felt good. I just got outpitched and made a couple of mistakes, and that's the ballgame."

By the numbers, Danks pitched well enough to win, allowing nine hits, three of them in his last inning. But he did get beat twice by Hamilton and Cruz, and with sudden phenom Alexi Ogando pitching for the Rangers -- he has a 1.81 ERA after Monday's start -- it was enough to hand the White Sox their second loss in seven games.

Danks said he made a mistake to Hamilton after getting the first two outs in the bottom of the first. Danks didn't get a four-seam fastball up enough to the reigning American League MVP, and Hamilton lined the 0-1 pitch just over the right-field fence for a 1-0 lead.

Danks scattered three hits over the next four innings, but ran into Cruz in the bottom of the sixth. Once again, Danks retired the first two batters in the inning, but walked Adrian Beltre to give Cruz a chance to hit with a man on. Cruz belted the first pitch he saw from Danks for a two-run home run over the left-field fence and a 3-0 lead.

"It was unfortunate I made a pretty bad pitch to a pretty darn good hitter in the first," Danks said. "Then I made what I thought was a very good pitch, especially early in the count, to Cruz, and he's a good hitter. He hit it out of the ballpark."

When the White Sox saw the Rangers last week, neither Cruz or Hamilton were in the lineup.

"It changes that lineup no doubt," Danks said. "No disrespect to the other guys that were in their last time. Those are two All-Stars, two of the best hitters in the game. It really changes it drastically."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said after another Danks loss that his pitcher threw the ball well. Danks has had only one poor start this season while compiling a 4.34 ERA. But catcher A.J. Pierzynski said he does see areas where Danks can improve, and will.

"He threw the ball well," Pierzynski said. "He made a couple of mistakes. He missed location a couple of times. John gives a lot of 0-2, 1-2 hits on mistakes. It's almost like he's throwing too many strikes. We need to be burying a ball in or bury a ball down and he's throwing it just high enough where a guy can get a good swing on it.

"It is frustrating, not only for him, but for me and for [pitching coach Don] Cooper and for everyone, because we know the ability John has and we know what he's capable of and we're trying to get that out of him."

It wasn't all on Danks.

The White Sox couldn't solve Ogando, one of the American League's best starting pitchers this season. The White Sox managed five singles. They entered Monday with 16 doubles in their previous five games and 41 in May to lead all of baseball.

Their best scoring opportunity came in the top of fifth. Pierzynski led off with a single and Gordon Beckham later had a two-out single. Pierzynski made it to third on a throwing error by Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. The rally died though when Juan Pierre grounded back to the mound.

The White Sox didn't get a hit after that as they had just two walks in the final four innings. They could do nothing after the game but throw accolades at Ogando, a reliever last year turned dominant starter this season.

"He threw strikes," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "He's a hard thrower. And he mixed in sliders to keep us honest. He located the ball real well. He was a handful."

The White Sox hope Danks will get back to being that pitcher. Guillen said afterward that Danks' rotation spot is safe, even with the winless record and the White Sox currently going with an unusual six-man rotation.

Eventually someone will have to go the bullpen. It's not going to be Danks, Guillen said.

Meanwhile, Danks said he can only look forward to Sunday in Toronto.

"I'll just keep plugging along," Danks said. "That's really how it is. It's a broken record. It's tough. Don't get me wrong. I know I have a job to do and tomorrow I'll start getting ready for my start in Toronto." Comments