Vintage Danks defuses Yankees

Vintage Danks defuses Yankees

CHICAGO -- There has been something different about John Danks since the All-Star break. Something bigger than his 2.78 ERA over four second-half starts.

At almost three years to the date of his arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Danks' stuff is starting to improve. That fact became evident during an 8-2 victory over the Yankees Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field, where Danks matched a season high with eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings, holding New York to one run on three hits.

"Yeah, early on he had a little extra to it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Danks, who helped the team end a two-game losing streak. "It was firm and he had a good changeup."

"I didn't have a date or anything in mind, but certainly pleasantly surprised," said Danks of his stuff improving. "The first time I looked up and saw 93, I wanted to throw confetti out there. It's definitely gotten better."

Danks topped out at 94 mph against the Yankees and averaged 92 with his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. Since that surgical procedure on Aug. 6, 2012, to repair a capsular tear of the rotator cuff and biceps in his left shoulder, there's been a great deal of talk about Danks pitching with a new style.

Almost Mark Buehrle-like, if you will. While Danks never will be confused with Randy Johnson or Chris Sale, he's excited to see the recent uptick and thinks greater improvement and development can be in store.

"I'm still feeling good between starts: I'm able to get on the mound," Danks said. "It's just part of the process. Wish it hadn't taken this long and hopefully it'll continue, but I feel good about things right now.

"Tonight's the best stuff I've had in two years. I would say since the break, my stuff's gradually gotten better. It's nice to see it coming back a little bit. I don't know if that had anything to do with my command or if I was just off. But it's nice to be able to reach back and throw a respectable fastball."

There was some help from the White Sox defense Saturday, with Avisail Garcia going over the right-field fence in the third to take away a three-run homer for Didi Gregorius. The game might have been different if the Yankees had taken a 3-2 lead there instead of cutting the deficit to 2-1.

From that point, Danks battled against a team that knows how to work the count. He continues to provide greater hope that the veteran has the stuff to solidify the back end of this stellar rotation.

"Stuff's gotten better, certainly," Danks said. "Throwing strikes, not hurting myself. I got away with some walks today but defense is making plays and for the most part making them put the ball in play. It's worked out so far."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.