Revitalized Danks does some dazzling
John Danks might not be all the way back from shoulder surgery, but he showed he's pretty close Saturday.
"It's night and day," the White Sox' left-hander said.
Night was probably any time in February and March, when Danks was hoping to show he was fully recovered in spring training. As it turned out, he wasn't anywhere near ready to rejoin the Sox' rotation.
"Obviously, spring training was tough," Danks said. "I battled through a lot in spring, and just like they told me, the more time and the more strengthening I get, the better I'll be. It's still a process.
"There will be days where it doesn't feel great. I'm fully prepared for that, but so far it feels great out there. Nothing's bothering me. I'm able to throw all four pitches."
Danks had his fastball, changeup, cutter and curve working to near perfection at U.S. Cellular Field, and he looked a lot like his old self in the Sox' 4-1 win over Oakland.
"It was nice to get John a win," Paul Konerko said. "You don't want to waste an outing like that by one of your starters. We've had a lot of those this year where we couldn't get our starter a win and with John, you're coming back off the injury and all that. It's something a little more special getting it for him and yeah, it was a good day."
Danks was admittedly shaky early, and it wasn't looking promising when the red-hot A's scored a run on 2 hits and a walk in the first inning.
"I hate to say it this way, but I feel fortunate to only give up one after the first couple (innings)," Danks said. "It was a struggle. It was a grind out there. I just had trouble getting the ball down, the changeup didn't feel great but I felt like I was able to make enough pitches to get out of it. Once I was able to settle in, I felt pretty good about things."
Danks (1-2) retired the last 21 Oakland hitters he faced while allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 8 innings. It was his first win since May 19 of last season, when he beat the Cubs at Wrigley. It was Danks' first home win since Sept. 24, 2011.
"I'd like to be depended on to go 110-130 (pitches) like the rest of the guys are," Danks said after throwing 96 vs. the A's. "I want to just be another pitcher on the team that's expected to get us in the seventh, eighth inning."
After scoring just 29 runs in their last 11 games, 10 of them losses, the White Sox' offense finally broke through in the eighth inning Saturday.
Alejandro De Aza led off the eighth with an infield single against Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle. Alexei Ramirez sacrificed him to second base and Alex Rios came through with an RBI single to put the Sox in front 2-1.
Paul Konerko added a 2-run homer to give the White Sox some breathing room.
Getting bunts down has been a difficult task for Ramirez, but he came through and set up the big inning.
"It's nice when you do that and the guy behind you (Rios) comes in with a hit," manager Robin Ventura said. "That's something you have to do to win games. Rios is big with that basehit going the other way and then you get to Paulie and it kind of puts it away a little bit."
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Karen Rand was at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday, and she threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Chris Sale from her wheelchair.
Rand was near the finish line at the Marathon waiting for her boyfriend to finish the race when one of two bombs went off. She had her lower left leg amputated, and her right leg was also injured.
"I think for our guys, you go through a tough stretch and there's a sense to want to feel sorry for yourself and you shouldn't," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "She's a great example, very upbeat. They just happened to like coming to Chicago on vacation. It's great that she comes out and we get to entertain her a little bit."
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