CHICAGO -- The White Sox didn't have to wait long for Alejandro De Aza to make an impact after being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Wednesday's series finale against the division-leading Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field.
Making his season debut just hours after the White Sox announced another move -- a trade that sent Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays -- De Aza belted his first career home run in his first at-bat. De Aza's two-run shot in the second inning helped lift the White Sox to a 2-1 victory over Detroit that pulled Ozzie Guillen's club to within 3 1/2 games of the American League Central lead.
"I'm happy I'm here. Thank God they gave me the opportunity to do the little things I was supposed to do," De Aza said. "I was trying to do my best, get a hit, and big things happened.''
"Right on time. Be in the right place at the right time," Guillen said. "We've liked him since Spring Training. We didn't have space for him to come on the 25-man roster, but I think he's going to see some playing time, and hopefully he can help us."
With starter John Danks turning in another solid performance and the White Sox bullpen pitching three perfect innings, it didn't matter that Tigers starter Max Scherzer shut down the White Sox offense after De Aza's long ball.
Danks allowed just one run over six-plus innings despite spending much of the afternoon pitching from the stretch with runners on base. After starting the game with two perfect innings, Danks allowed at least two baserunners in each of the next four frames, but limited the damage to just the one run thanks largely to 10 strikeouts, which tied his career high set on May 9, 2009, against the Rangers."We had opportunity after opportunity," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "And Danks was tremendous, don't get me wrong, he had his cutter going really good. He was nasty and made a lot of nasty pitches. But at the same time, for some reason, I just thought we overswung. That was really disappointing."
The left-hander escaped a bases-loaded, one-out threat in the third, only to find himself in another jam one inning later after walking the first two batters. Danks quickly worked his way out of trouble, recording three consecutive strikeouts against Jhonny Peralta, Carlos Guillen and Wilson Betemit on just 11 pitches to end the inning.
"I felt like I had as good of stuff as I've had all year," Danks said. "It was a little frustrating not being able to throw the ball exactly where I wanted to throw it, but I felt like I was effectively wild, I guess is the best way of putting it. We'll take it. We got a win against the team that's leading our division right now, and we've got to get as many wins as we can.
Since his worst outing of the season on May 29 in Toronto -- when he gave up nine runs in four innings -- Danks has gone 4-0, allowing just four earned runs in 36 2/3 innings (0.98 ERA) in six starts. An Austin Jackson solo homer to lead off the seventh inning was the only run scored against Danks and snapped his streak of 18 1/3 shutout innings.
"He was struggling after the third inning; He was fighting through it," Ozzie Guillen said. "I tried to get him through another inning because we're very short out of the bullpen. I tried to extend him, but I didn't want him to lose the game after that performance."
Following the home run, Guillen called on another left-hander, Chris Sale, who came out of the bullpen to retire all eight Tigers batters he faced before handing the ball off to Sergio Santos with two outs in the ninth. Santos picked up the one-out save by getting pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch on a routine fly ball to right fielder Carlos Quentin, who made a diving grab to rob Alex Avila of a hit just one batter earlier.
"Sale, since I don't know how long, he's been pitching great for a long time," Guillen said. "Sale's come up huge. I think that was the best part of the game, when Sale came out there and did what he did."
With the White Sox having an off-day on Thursday before continuing their homestand on Friday against the Red Sox, Wednesday's win marked the end of an 18-game span that was strictly against divisional opponents. The White Sox salvaged a 9-9 record during that stretch by winning four of their last five games, all of which came against the Indians and Tigers, the two teams ahead of them in the division.
"I think when it's all said and done, we're gonna be the team to reckon with," Danks said. "That doesn't mean any disrespect to anyone else, but we have a good group of guys in here. Plenty of talent. We're at 3 1/2, four games out, there's plenty of baseball against our division to be played, and that should make for a fun stretch."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.