Danks' struggles prove costly against Tribe

Danks' struggles prove costly against Tribe

Danks' struggles prove costly against Tribe
CHICAGO -- John Danks provided absolutely no chance to search for reasons in the White Sox 7-5 loss to the Indians on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field, with the team finishing this seven-game homestand at 2-5.

After allowing seven runs for a second straight start, Danks (2-4) quickly took full responsibility for this setback.

"I lost the game. That's straight up. I lost this game," said Danks, who exited after seven innings and 96 pitches. "They scored five runs tonight, and that's a good pitcher on the other side. I didn't give us a chance to win this game at all.

"About the only good thing I did was get us through seven. I don't know. I think I'd rather me get through five and giving up a few less than go seven and giving up a ton of runs. It sucks. It's getting comical."

Yet, Danks was not laughing.

In slipping to 0-5 with a 6.25 ERA in seven career home starts against the first-place Indians (13-10), Danks was touched up for six earned runs on nine hits. That seventh run scored when Danks mishandled a Michael Brantley grounder back to the mound with two outs in the second and then threw the ball away in an attempt to nail him at first. Casey Kotchman brought home Brantley with a single to center.

Seven of those nine hits came off the bat of left-handed hitters against the left-handed throwing Danks. Left-handed hitters entered the game with a .268 average in 41 at-bats against Danks, while right-handed hitters were batting .260 over 77 at-bats.

Manager Robin Ventura believes teams will load up on lefties against Danks to take away his changeup. Danks, serving once again as his own worst critic, had a different take.

"Teams will throw lefties in there until I figure out how to get them out," said Danks, who walked one but also struck out just one. "I got hit hard by the righties, too. It's frustrating, obviously. I know I have it in me. I know I can pitch effectively at this level and I got to get back to that.

"[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] is great at what he does. I know he'll find something, and we'll figure it out."

Jason Kipnis topped the Cleveland left-handed attack with two hits and four RBIs. The local product from suburban Northbrook tripled home a run and scored on Asdrubal Cabrera's single during a two-run third, and then delivered a two-out, three-run homer in the seventh to give the Indians plenty of breathing room.

"It was a cutter in or something that he left up over the plate. I was able to get a good swing on it," said Kipnis. "I was making sure that I saw his pitches up. I was watching all the other hitters that he was throwing to with guys on base. I kind of cheated almost on 3-1. I kind of stepped a little bit in the bucket."

"He wasn't walking guys, he just got a couple up," said Ventura of Danks, who had walked 16 over 30 1/3 innings coming into this game. "The one to Kipnis is probably the one he wants back. He got that one up, and we just scored a run. That's probably the one."

The White Sox (12-13) hung tough against Justin Masterson (1-2), creeping within one run during both the fifth and sixth innings. Alejandro De Aza singled home two in the fifth, following a walk to Kosuke Fukudome and a perfectly placed bunt single from Gordon Beckham, and Alex Rios singled home A.J. Pierzynski in the sixth.

Numerous other scoring chances were wasted.

With two runners on and two out in the sixth, Beckham struck out. In the seventh, after a walk to Paul Konerko loaded the bases with two outs, reliever Joe Smith induced an inning-ending popout to Cabrera from Pierzynski. Finally, in the eighth, with runners on first and third and one out, Eduardo Escobar hit a short fly to center that was caught by Brantley, and Beckham, who had slipped to the ground between second and third, was easily doubled off at first base.

"We didn't send him," said Ventura of Beckham's baserunning mistake. "I don't think he picked up the ball."

Adam Dunn's two-run homer off of Dan Wheeler in the ninth marked the first time Dunn homered in back-to-back games since Aug. 1-2, 2010 with the Nationals. It also cut the Indians' lead to 7-5, and when Konerko walked against closer Chris Perez, Pierzynski once again stood as the tying run.

Perez (ninth save) struck out Pierzynski looking on a 3-2 pitch and then got Rios on a routine grounder to Cabrera, dropping the White Sox to two games out of first and to 3-9 over their last 12 home games. The loss ended with Rios aiming a few angry words at Perez, who celebrated boisterously after both of the outs he recorded.

As bothered as Rios seemed to be in the moment, he was nowhere near as frustrated as Danks after a second straight rough outing.

"I'm not making pitches and getting my [butt] kicked out there, so I've got to do something," Danks said. "I know I will get this ship righted. But it sure as hell would be nice if we get it righted soon."

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