White Sox

Danks, White Sox discover correct formula in win over Oakland

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Danks, White Sox discover correct formula in win over Oakland

OAKLAND — When the White Sox score four runs, they’ve been awfully hard to beat this season.

As their offense continues to heat up, the White Sox have recently found themselves in that position quite often. Avisail Garcia had three hits and John Danks pitched well after he yielded two early runs as the White Sox topped the Oakland A’s, 4-3, in front of 28,445 on Saturday. Danks (2-3) gave up two runs over seven innings and David Robertson notched a four-out save as the White Sox won their fourth straight game and for the eighth time in 11 tries to improve to 16-17.

The White Sox, who have won four straight series, are 15-3 when they score at least four runs, including 6-2 over the past eight games.

“We’re not an easy lineup top to bottom and we play hard and play until the last out,” Danks said. “If I can keep them there until the last out we have a decent chance. Fortunately things went our way, I was able to hold them there and we scored enough runs to win. Don’t like early holes, but a two-spot in the first is no need to panic with this team.”

Especially with how the offense has performed the past 12 games.

[MORE: Jose Abreu: Confidence is 'very high' after Friday's final play]

Entering Saturday, the White Sox had 57 runs in their previous 11 contests and were hitting .283/.349/.403.

Garcia made up for a second-inning baserunning error during a third-inning rally. With the bases loaded and two outs, Garcia fell behind Oakland starter Jesse Chavez 0-2 in the count before he worked it full and singled into center to drive in two and tie the game. An inning earlier, Garcia, who had doubled, ran through a stop sign at third base and was caught leaning on a Conor Gillaspie single. Garcia finished 3-for-3 and also drew a walk in four trips.

The White Sox took the lead after another mistake by the A’s in the seventh. Adam Eaton, who went 2-for-5, reached on a two-out bunt single and reliever Fernando Rodriguez’s throw soared over first base, which allowed the leadoff man to reach third. Melky Cabrera then singled him in and Jose Abreu, who has an 11-game hitting streak, followed with an RBI double to give the White Sox a 4-2 lead.

The White Sox — who averaged a shade over three runs a game in their first 20 contests — have outscored opponents 22-8 in the seventh inning.

“They continue to believe and I think that’s the biggest thing out of these guys,” manager Robin Ventura said. “They’re getting to be a confident group and going in there feeling like they can win some games.”

The way Danks has pitched the last two times out, and four of the last five, has to have the White Sox confident as well.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

He followed up Saturday’s gem with his fourth quality start in five games.

The left-hander’s night didn’t get off to a rousing start as he gave up two first-inning hits, including a two-run home run by Billy Butler. Danks also got into trouble in the second inning as Oakland got two aboard with one out. But Danks struck out Eric Sogard and got Billy Burns to pop out.

From there, Danks didn’t find trouble once as he limited the A’s to a pair of harmless walks. He retired the side in order in the third, fifth and seventh innings, setting down 17 of the final 19 batters he faced. Danks — who has a 3.81 ERA over his last five starts, allowed three hits — walked three and struck out six.

Zach Duke gave up a run in the eighth inning but rookie Carlos Sanchez turned a fantastic double play and Robertson took over after two straight two-out hits to retire Brett Lawrie on a fly out to center.

“We are in a great moment,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I think this is just the beginning of the good things we have ahead. We have to keep on working hard and try to do the best every day, but I think right now, we are in a great, great moment with the offense.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

Dylan Cease's ERA is still north of 5.75.

He's not a finished product, no matter how much anyone wants him to be one.

"It would be ideal for me — and my ability to sleep — and everyone’s mood if these guys came up and dominated immediately," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "In reality there is a little bit of a learning process that goes on."

All these results, the ones that have contributed to that ugly ERA and some generally ugly outings over Cease's first couple months in the major leagues, are learning moments. Not convinced on the effectiveness of those learning moments? Just look to Lucas Giolito, who took all the struggles he had in 2018 and turned them into an All-Star 2019 season in which he's blossomed into the ace of the staff.

But, despite the hype, these guys aren't coming up finished products.

Cease, though, has flashed the potential that has earned him all that hype, and in no outing did he flash more of it than he did in Friday night's start against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Following the theme that seems to be developing in Cease starts, he had a pretty lousy inning early in the game, in this case the very first inning, in which he served up a three-run homer. The theme continues, though, that Cease usually uses all that composure and maturity everyone's always raving about to settle down and pitch a decent game. Friday night, he was more than decent. After the first inning, Cease retired the next 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits (both singles) over five scoreless innings.

Cease, following in the tradition of perfectionist pitchers everywhere, hasn't been happy with previous outings that followed a similar script. This time, he was pleased. Maybe something to do with the career-best nine strikeouts.

"To me, that was just a huge confidence boost right there. Now I just need to not let those big innings happen," Cease said. "That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning."

"You had a couple of things going on," manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a rough first, we scored some runs, he holds them. We scored some more runs, he holds them. He kept doing that throughout. It's a big push. You see, there's a confidence-builder in that particular outing today. He should be happy how he ended up redirecting himself and righting the ship."

Cease's ability to do just that, right the ship, might give him a bit of a head start on his developmental process at the major league level. After all, Giolito and James McCann talk frequently about that issue plaguing Giolito in 2018. When things went wrong early, Giolito couldn't get back on track. He's been able to this year, contributing to his success. If Cease can do that from the day he hits the majors, that's a plus.

And if that's a tool Cease already has in his tool box, then the next step would be eliminating those early troubles. As good as Cease has looked at times, those numbers aren't lying. He's given up 32 earned runs in his 50 big league innings. He's given up 11 home runs in nine starts and has yet to have an outing without allowing a homer. Walks have been a sporadic issue: He walked just one batter in each of his last two starts but walked five in the outing prior and has three starts this year with at least four walks.

Again, learning process.

"His stuff is — it's electric stuff," Renteria said. "Sometimes you wonder, 'How can they hit him?' or 'How can they do this?' It's just (that they are) big league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they're going to do what they can do with it.

"As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he's going to be OK."

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Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

Scott Podsednik and David DeJesus join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

They talk Yoan Moncada's comeback, Eloy Jiménez's injury, the Cubs' continuing bullpen struggles and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: