Danks roughed up as White Sox drop series to Astros
Southpaw allows three homers in 4 2/3 innings of Texas homecoming
HOUSTON -- Thirty of John Danks' family members and friends made their way to Minute Maid Park on Sunday afternoon for the White Sox series finale against the Astros.
One friend made the 162-mile journey from Austin to see one of the White Sox Texans in action, bringing three friends along for the ride.
Unfortunately for this large support system, it wasn't anything near the showing Danks had hoped to provide.
The Astros (16-28) jumped on Danks (3-4) early and often during his 4 2/3 innings in the White Sox 8-2 loss, as the southpaw allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits. Danks had talked Saturday about wanting to avoid the free pass and attacking the strike zone.
While Danks walked three and struck out seven, he was behind too often during the course of his 107-pitch outing. Those hitters' counts, coupled with Danks not possessing overpowering stuff, produced three Houston home runs. Danks has surrendered seven long balls in the last 21 2/3 innings.
Postgame analysis from Danks centered on the poor afternoon as a whole, and not anything specific.
"Name it," said Danks of what went wrong. "I did a terrible job of keeping the ball in the ballpark. I did a terrible job of getting in pitcher's counts. I didn't make a pitch when I needed.
"Yeah, it was an all-round pretty [lousy] day. I was excited pitching at home. I had a lot of people here. It [stinks]."
This game looked somewhat similar to Saturday in that the Astros jumped out to a significant lead against a struggling White Sox starter. But in this case, Danks never really settled in and the White Sox were unable to come back against Brad Peacock (1-4).
A four-run second, sparked by Chris Carter's long home run to left and Jonathan Villar's two-run single, gave Houston an early advantage. Left fielder Alejandro De Aza misplayed Villar's shot to left, allowing Villar to take second on the error. He swiped third and came home on catcher Adrian Nieto's throwing error.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura spoke about harping on the basics and fundamentals before the game in relation to a De Aza baserunning error from Saturday. He reiterated that sentiment after the fielding miscues.
"Everything gets frustrating, especially when you have games like this," Ventura said. "It just has to be cleaned up. You have that, and throwing down the left-field line. You keep giving teams opportunities, you're going to pay for it."
Matt Dominguez launched a two-run homer to left-center in the third off Danks before following that with his seventh homer of the season in the fifth -- which also was a two-run shot -- marking the third multi-homer game of his career. The White Sox (21-24) scored once in the third off of Peacock, but they could have had more.
Alexei Ramirez and De Aza reached on walks to start the inning, with Peacock throwing eight straight balls at one point. Nieto singled home Ramirez, and Adam Eaton singled to load the bases. But Gordon Beckham hit into a 1-2-3 double play and Conor Gillaspie flied out to center to end the frame.
"I just tried to throw a slider down and away," Peacock said of Beckham's double play. "That was a big pitch and a big play."
"He wiggled out of it," said Ventura of Peacock in the third. "He walked some guys, gave us an opportunity and came up with a big comebacker to the pitcher that got him out of it. After that, he started using his slider a little bit more, and I think that's really what he went to because he didn't really have a feel for his fastball at that time."
Eaton's return from the disabled list was one of the lone bright spots amid an otherwise forgettable series finale for the White Sox. Nieto added three hits and a career-high two RBIs. The White Sox dropped to 2-4 on this three-city, nine-game road trip on a day that started badly -- with Jose Abreu being placed on the 15-day DL due to posterior tibial tendinitis in his left ankle -- and only got worse.
Dayan Viciedo, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, the White Sox four-through-six hitters, combined to finish 0-for-12 with six strikeouts. Dunn took four called third strikes on the afternoon.
"There are days like that," Ventura said. "Right now, we're looking a lot different than we did a week ago -- just guys we have in there, how they're swinging and how it's going. You take somebody like Abreu out of there, it just looks different. It needs to pick up, because he's not going to be here for a couple of weeks."
"You still have to go out there and try to get wins, no matter who is here," Beckham said. "Everyone here is in the big leagues for a reason. We need to get some wins. We have to battle."
Danks was hoping to pick up a victory or at least give his team a chance pitching just 2 1/2 hours from his Austin home. Instead, he submitted his second truly rough outing of the season, to go along with the six quality starts he already has made.
"Obviously, there are two starts now that I definitely would like to have back," Danks said. "I would like to be a little more consistent and get us deeper into the game. I'm going to do my best to chalk this up as one of those days.
"[Pitching coach Don Cooper] and I will sit down and get whatever we need to figure out figured out and get ready for the Yankees. But this one stings a little bit."