BALTIMORE -- John Danks’ margin for error just isn’t very wide.
He and the White Sox discovered that yet again on Thursday night when the Baltimore Orioles made the veteran pay for several third-inning mistakes. With several potential options to choose from, whether or not the White Sox will give him another start to find a rhythm becomes the big question.
Danks surrendered a pair of long home runs and allowed six earned runs and the White Sox fell to the Orioles, 10-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yard in front of 14,568. The loss snapped a six-game White Sox winning streak and is the team’s first defeat since Danks’ last start on April 21. A “miserable” April for Danks ended with his fourth loss in four starts and a 7.25 ERA.
“There’s 24 guys in there that are setting the world on fire,” Danks said. “That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. Shoot man, we were hot. Still are. These guys are going to be bounce back and we’ll be fine. But damn, got in the way of something special tonight.”
For Thursday night at least, manager Robin Ventura didn’t discuss if the team plans to make a change at the back end of its rotation. But the White Sox have shown they may entertain the idea.
A team off to its hottest start since 2006 jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by Todd Frazier. But Danks yielded a run in the first inning and had to be bailed out by a great relay throw home to prevent a tie. Danks later walked Caleb Joseph to start the third inning and Manny Machado’s one-out double to right tied it at 2. Chris Davis launched a two-run homer to right-center field and Mark Trumbo followed with a solo shot to put the Orioles ahead 5-2.
Danks put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth innings, but exited after he surrendered a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy in the sixth. That run eventually scored during five-run Orioles rally against Jake Petricka.
Danks allowed nine hits and walked two while throwing strikes on 56 of 96 pitches.
“He’s just living in the middle of the plate and this is not the team to do it with,” Ventura said. “Right now we’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us.”
It was only earlier this week when the White Sox went to the minor leagues for help when they promoted recently signed starter Miguel Gonzalez to give him an opportunity. While Gonzalez showed rust in Monday’s start, he also settled in against a tough Toronto Blue Jays lineup, which allowed the White Sox to rally for a big win.
Ventura said he was impressed with how Gonzalez handled himself against the Blue Jays in his first big league start of the season. However, Ventura didn’t make any commitments about the right-hander’s future and Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday.
But the decision to push Danks out of the series in Toronto, a team against whom he has poor numbers, raises questions about how long the White Sox might keep him in the rotation.
Ventura noted on Monday that the White Sox have several options from which to choose if they need help in the rotation.
Jacob Turner has a 2.49 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings at Charlotte. Erik Johnson, also at Charlotte, has a 3.24 ERA in three starts. And there’s Gonzalez, who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 with the Orioles before he fell off last season.
“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily had that for a while,” Ventura said.
The White Sox have Monday off before they start a six-game homestand on Tuesday. That means they could skip Danks’ next turn in the rotation without moving around any of their other starters, a group Danks acknowledged is “dealing.” They also could stash him in the bullpen.
Danks felt confident he was dealing this spring in Arizona. He showed better fastball command than he had in some time, which had the White Sox front office feeling cautiously optimistic. But Danks didn’t have any fastball command on Thursday and he paid for it. For now, Danks said all he could do is work to improve and ignore the big picture.
“I’m in no position to pitch from behind, deep, long at-bats,” Danks said. “I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else. I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”