White Sox outslugged by Twins in opener
Konerko, Ramirez go yard; Danks tallies season-high nine strikeouts
CHICAGO -- As a big move was being made off the field Friday afternoon, the White Sox weren't able to continue their recent success on it.
The club announced before the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Twins that Alex Rios had been traded to the Rangers in a waiver-wire deal for a player to be named or cash considerations, and then the White Sox fell, 7-5, at U.S. Cellular Field.
Left-hander John Danks was solid through six innings, but his control problems -- along with those of the relievers who took over for him in the seventh -- led to his fifth consecutive loss.
With a 3-1 lead in the seventh, Danks walked the first two Twins hitters in the inning -- his fourth and fifth free passes of the game -- prompting manager Robin Ventura to go to the bullpen.
Matt Lindstrom came into the game and struck out Brian Dozier. Donnie Veal followed and walked Joe Mauer. With the bases loaded, Ventura summoned Nate Jones, who struck out Josh Willingham and got ahead in the count, 1-2, on Justin Morneau. Morneau then deposited a 98-mph fastball from Jones into the right-field stands for his seventh career grand slam, giving the Twins a 5-3 lead.
The grand slam was the first home run Jones had allowed since May 30 against the Cubs and the first long ball he had yielded at home since Aug. 7, 2012, against Kansas City.
"Nate's been good this year," Danks said. "It's just the way things are going. I don't feel like he should've even been in that situation. If I could throw a darn ball over the plate, we'd be all right. We just shot ourselves in the foot, and a good hitter made us pay for it."
"This is a place you know you don't have to overswing," Morneau said. "Obviously I had a rough three at-bats that weren't very good. But that's what makes this game frustrating and great is you get another opportunity, and I was lucky enough to come up there with the bases loaded and get a two-strike pitch and just get the barrel to it. It was a good feeling."
Morneau's blast was the first of two homers he would hit, adding a solo shot in the ninth. It was also the second of four homers White Sox pitchers gave up.
With Danks pitching well early on, things were looking up for the White Sox, who were trying for their fourth consecutive win after a 10-game losing streak.
Trailing, 1-0, in the bottom of the second following a Chris Colabello homer in the top half, the White Sox answered in kind with a blast to left by Paul Konerko off Twins starter Kyle Gibson to tie the game at 1. The home run was the 431st of Konerko's career, tying him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 44th all time.
In the fifth, Alexei Ramirez did something he hadn't done in 451 at-bats: he homered -- with one on and two outs following a Gordon Beckham walk -- giving the White Sox a 3-1 advantage. The home run to left was Ramirez's second of the season and first since April 3 against Kansas City.
As he walked out to the mound for the seventh, Danks had given up just one run on four hits while fanning a season-high nine batters. Then things began to unravel as he lost command of the strike zone in the game's decisive inning.
"There's never a good time for a walk, really," Danks said about losing the first two hitters of the seventh -- the bottom two in the Twins' lineup -- to bases on balls. "I have to throw the ball over the plate. They weren't even close. That's embarrassing, standing out there and [spraying] the ball all over the place."
"That seventh was a little rough," Ventura said. "You don't make them swing the bat, then they get on and then they get four at once. So that inning was a little rough."
The Twins tacked on two more runs on a homer by Oswaldo Arcia in the eighth and the Morneau homer in the ninth.
Ramirez added a two-run single in the ninth for the final margin.
If there was any consolation for Danks in the loss, it was that he was able to start a Major League game on the mound with his younger brother, Jordan, behind him in the outfield for the first time. Jordan Danks went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch.
"It was cool," the elder Danks said. "We've been waiting a long time to play together, and to finally get to be on the field at the same time, it was fun."
The younger Danks was inserted into the lineup because Rios was scratched in light of the trade. It was a bittersweet result for Danks to be able to play with his brother, yet lose a teammate of whom he was fond.
"We have no one to blame but ourselves," Danks said of the reason the White Sox have been sellers in the trade market. "The way we've played to this point, it's just part of the game. I obviously wish him well, but we're going to have to play better the last couple of months to salvage a little bit."
Danks then described the team's mentality as it endures a difficult 2013 campaign headed into its final seven weeks.
"We all have pride," he said. "None of us like losing. We're going to go out there and win every game we can."