The White Sox didn’t have to pull the rip cord Sunday afternoon and deploy the emergency parachute, which in this analogy would’ve been Hector Noesi or Jose Quintana.
Against the backdrop of a taxed bullpen from Saturday’s doubleheader, John Danks turned in seven innings of one-run ball in the White Sox 4-3 walk-off win over Cincinnati Sunday afternoon. Long relievers Scott Carroll and Carlos Rodon were unavailable after combining to throw 10 2/3 innings Saturday, while lefty Dan Jennings labored through 39 ineffective pitches in a ninth-inning meltdown in the first game of the doubleheader.
So if Danks were lit up — as he was over 2 1/3 innings against Minnesota in his last start — the White Sox might’ve been forced to use Noesi after he threw 1 2/3 innings before exiting Game 1 Saturday due to a lower back contusion. Sunday was Quintana’s bullpen day, too, which could’ve turned into actual game action in relief if necessary.
The preferred, and probably necessary, option was for Danks to have just the start he did.
“I like knowing that it’s your game when you’re out there,” Danks said. “Obviously performance dictates how long you’re in the game but go out there for a while and give us a chance to win.”
Danks scattered six hits and three walks, with Cincinnati’s damage off him coming on Devin Mesoraco’s RBI triple in the fourth. He held the top of the Reds’ order — Billy Hamilton, Marlon Byrd, Joey Votto and Todd Frazier — to just two walks and no hits in 12 plate appearances.
“We knew he was going to go out there for around 105 to 120 pitches,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It was big. You saw him today, he was mixing in a little bit, you probably saw a little speeding up on guys and the quick movement. He was just trying to create some deception and it worked for him. He was around the zone, he was throwing strikes. We needed that today more than any day.”
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Not only did Danks mix his fastball and changeup effectively, but he worked at a quick tempo and threw a few Reds hitters off with it. In one instance, Danks quick-pitched Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was still twirling his bat in his pre-stance routine as the pitch whizzed into Tyler Flowers’ mitt for a strike.
It was Danks’ longest start of the year by a full inning and his third quality start in six games. The 118 pitches he threw were his highest total since July 2, 2014. Sunday was the first time in 2015 Danks threw more than 100 pitches, too.
“We’ve been trying to do certain things just to give me a better chance,” Danks said. “Messing up timing’s one of them. I think it’s very effective. We’re going to continue to work on things but it’s basically doing whatever you gotta do to get that guy out and fortunately it worked.”