Danks dispatches Angels for 14th win
Southpaw sets career high for victories; Sox claim third straight
ANAHEIM -- Saturday was not a total loss for John Danks.
Yes, his beloved Texas Longhorns were clubbed on the home gridiron by UCLA, dropping them well down the pecking order in the BCS national championship picture. But that tough loss certainly didn't carry over to the left-hander's mound effort.
Danks allowed two runs in the first inning and then shut down the Angels over the next seven, as the White Sox cruised to a 6-2 victory at Angel Stadium before 40,758.
This third straight victory for the White Sox (82-72) raised their record to 3-2 on this West Coast road trip leading into the 2010 season's final week, beginning Monday night at home with the Red Sox. It also brought Danks his 14th victory, setting a single-season high for the southpaw.
"I've had a couple of rough ones coming into this one," said Danks of his 110-pitch effort. "Really, I'm just trying to go out there and finish on a high note."
"Well, I think John has worked hard to be what he wants to be," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the hurler with the highest win total on his staff. "This kid is very special. He is a real bulldog. I think he takes the opportunity very well, grabs it and keeps it."
It has not been a good recent run for Danks (14-11) or the White Sox starting rotation as a whole. Entering Saturday, Danks had one win since Aug. 12 and held a 1-3 record with a 6.46 ERA over his last five starts.
Meanwhile, the White Sox starters set a franchise record by going 18 straight games without a victory, posting an 0-9 mark with a 6.45 ERA and .329 average against during that time. The White Sox run ended one short of the season-high stretch without a win of 19 held by Seattle.
Prior to Danks' stellar performance against the Angels (75-79), Gavin Floyd's victory in the second game of a doubleheader sweep at Fenway Park on Sept. 4 marked the last win for a starter. Danks, who won the day portion of that split twin bill in Boston, gave up seven hits, fanned five and walked two on Saturday and then stood speechless at his locker upon hearing the news of the futility streak he snapped.
"I didn't know that. I don't know what to say about that. It's tough," said Danks with a sheepish smile. "We haven't been pitching the way we wanted to this month. We've let the team down in some respects."
"Not just my starters. I think the team," said Guillen with a laugh when informed of his starters' stretch without a victory.
Actually, the White Sox improved to 5-12 since being a season-high 17 games over .500 on Sept. 6 -- just two days after the last starter's victory. Danks' somewhat erratic first inning and run-scoring hits from Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter put the White Sox in a 2-0 hole, but they exploded for four runs off Scott Kazmir (9-15) in the third.
Alexei Ramirez singled home the game-tying pair, furthering his cause for the American League Silver Slugger honor at shortstop with 66 RBIs, while Alex Rios and Manny Ramirez chipped in run-scoring doubles. Manny's line shot to right-center stood up as his second extra-base hit with the White Sox and just his second RBI.
Ramon Castro's eighth home run leading off the fourth ended the night for Kazmir at just three-plus innings.
"It's almost like you're swimming under water," said Kazmir, who was touched up by the White Sox for five runs on five hits. "You know you have so much more strength and power."
"When he commands his fastball, he's pitched well enough to give us a chance to win," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia of his starter. "If you're not able to command your fastball, guys are laying in the weeds, looking in one spot, one area -- and he's paying a price for it."
Juan Pierre's bunt brought home Brent Morel in the seventh to cap off the scoring. Morel produced his first multi-hit game and continued strong defense in his ninth straight start at third base.
"He gives you good at-bats, and his defense was outstanding," said Guillen. "I always say defense, it's important and wins games. That's why he's in there."
Maybe the White Sox would have fared better overall this season if they played in the AL West. They have a 23-13 ledger against that particular division, with one game left on Sunday, while they have a dismal 30-39 record against the AL Central, with three games remaining against the Indians to close out 2010.
Regardless of the opponent, the White Sox simply want to win these last eight games. They want to hold off the Tigers to maintain second place and build up a head of steam for next year.
Or in terms related to Saturday's action, they want to accomplish what Danks' Longhorns couldn't do in Texas.
"That was a tough one today," said Danks, before returning to baseball analysis. "We are all competitive. We are not going to the playoffs, but we don't want to get our heads handed to us."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.