04/10/08 1:17 AM ET
Danks gets early hook as White Sox fall
Left-hander allows seven runs in 2 1/3; trio hit solo homers
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
"Detroit wins, we lose," said Guillen, as he walked toward his seat behind the podium. "The season is over."
The White Sox manager obviously was exaggerating for effect, as the worst thing that happened to his team was it fell out of first in the American League Central at the eight-game point of the 2008 season. Not exactly a huge cause for concern.
In fact, the White Sox (5-3) showed the fight they have featured all season after going down 7-0 in the third, cutting the deficit to four runs following solo home runs from Nick Swisher (No. 2), Paul Konerko (No. 1) and Joe Crede (No. 3) to lead off the third through fifth innings, respectively. But that seven-run hole was too much for the White Sox to climb out of on this occasion.
"With the bullpen they have, you get to the point where you can fight for a while but then you can't fight anymore," said Guillen, after watching his team's five-game win streak come to a close. "It was an ugly game all the way around."
"Even sitting in [the clubhouse] after I was out, there was a feeling that we were going to come back," added White Sox starter John Danks, who fell to 0-1 in suffering Wednesday's loss. "They battled and did a hell of a job. It's unfortunate I dug them the hole the way I did."
Following Danks' impressive start last Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, in which the left-hander forced Cleveland hitters to beat the ball into the ground with his new cutter, talk started popping up as to how the young southpaw had turned the corner to success. Just as Danks didn't put too much credence in that sort of praise, he wasn't about to hide in the dark recesses of the clubhouse after one of his worst starts as a professional.
Danks lasted a mere 2 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his career, and yielded seven runs on seven hits. He couldn't find the strike zone from the outset, allowing the first five hitters for Minnesota (4-5) to reach base. A nifty pickoff of Carlos Gomez kept the Twins' first-inning output to two runs.
A five-run fifth put an end to Danks' frigid evening, as a bases-loaded walk issued to Craig Monroe brought Guillen from the mound and Nick Masset from the bullpen.
"His first inning was a struggle, the second was fine, and the third inning he lost it," said Guillen of Danks. "It's something like I say, this game is about throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count and he couldn't do it today."
"I wish I had an answer for you," Danks added. "I felt like I had good stuff but I had trouble controlling it. I knew my control would come around, but in hindsight it really didn't. It was one of those days where it didn't work out, but I feel another good start coming against Oakland [Monday]."
Masset worked 3 2/3 innings and threw 71 pitches, topping Danks' 2 1/3 innings and 69 pitches, which usually doesn't indicate a good chance for victory. Masset ran into trouble in the sixth, after the White Sox had crept back into contention, when Minnesota came up with their second five-spot of the night.
Jason Kubel, who drove home six runs, sealed the victory on a first-pitch grand slam with two outs in the frame. Kubel has three career grand slams, with two coming at U.S. Cellular.
"I love this place," Kubel said. "I feel like I can pretty much go anywhere in this field."
"Offensively, we've been waiting up and down the lineup for everybody to get on the pace one time," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire added. "And to have one of those games where everybody was a part of it was nice."
Scott Baker (2-0) earned the victory, fanning seven over five innings, to go with the three home runs. Guillen began to make wholesale changes before the start of the seventh, with players such as Brian Anderson, Alexei Ramirez and Pablo Ozuna all getting chances to play.
Guillen was impressed by the way his veterans stayed in the dugout to watch the final of this debacle, even after their night had come to an end. It's the sort of camaraderie this group has been preaching since Spring Training.
"Games like tonight are tough," Konerko said. "It's still a loss, but we probably went about it as good as we can do it. Guys were hanging around and trying to have quality at-bats, and hopefully that will carry into tomorrow.
"We got killed out there tonight. It was one of those that was not a heartbreaker. We showed a little fight in the middle of the game, but it was one of those games where we were never really in it."
One primary question for Guillen is how his team will respond to this setback on Thursday night, even this early in the season.
"Today is over, but I wonder how they show up tomorrow," Guillen said. "We won't win 152 games, but the thing is every time we lose, we need to bounce back and play the next game better."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.