White Sox pitchers didn’t allow a run after the second inning on Thursday night.
But by that point the game already had been decided.
John Danks allowed four first-inning runs, including two solo homers, as the White Sox lost their third straight, falling, 5-2, to the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field.
Danks gave up five earned runs, and the White Sox lost their first home series of the season to fall to 18-20. Danny Salazar and three relievers combined to strike out 11 White Sox hitters.
“I made some bad pitches that got hit,” Danks said. “I wasn’t throwing strikes. That’s tough pitching behind in the count. You know, got to get ahead and stay ahead.
“I dug too deep of a hole and got beat.”
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Following two fantastic starts, it was clear from the outset Danks was off.
Jason Kipnis started the game with a double, and after a walk to Carlos Santana it was 1-0 when Michael Brantley singled in a run. A second run scored when Ryan Raburn grounded into a double play.
Then the wheels came off as Danks surrendered solo homers to Nick Swisher — his first — and Mike Aviles as Cleveland took a 4-0 lead. After the White Sox missed out on an early scoring chance in the bottom half, the Indians came back and added another run. Danks walked Roberto Perez, and Michael Bourn reached on a bunt single. One out later, Santana had an RBI groundout to make it a 5-0 contest.
Danks lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and walking four.
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The effort came on the heels of two great starts by Danks, who had allowed three earned runs and only nine hits over 14 innings.
“The last two times out he’s been great,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He came out strong. Tonight that wasn’t the case. They got to him, the homers, and we didn’t hit, either.”
The offense had its chances but couldn’t convert against Salazar.
Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu singled in their first — the latter extended the slugger’s hit streak to 16 games — but Salazar struck out Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia to escape. Two innings later, Salazar struck out Garcia again, this time with the bases loaded. Abreu also hit a deep drive in the fifth inning, but Bourn ran it down and doubled Melky Cabrera off first.
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From Salazar’s third inning strikeout of Garcia until a two-out Gordon Beckham double in the ninth, Indians pitchers retired 17 of 20 hitters.
“It’s always frustrating to lose three in a row,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We kind of ran into some quality pitching against those guys who were really throwing the ball well. And on top of that, the few opportunities we had, we weren’t able to cash them in.”
The White Sox offense has stalled after a strong road trip. The team scored eight runs and finished a four-game series against the Indians with 24 hits. It was Flowers who prevented the White Sox from being shut out with a 436-foot, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. But otherwise the White Sox look eerily reminiscent to the offense that produced 64 runs over its first 20 games.
“It does not look good the last few days that’s for sure,” Ventura said. “One way or another we have to turn that around. You want to pitch well first and scratch across some runs. We had guys on base, we just didn’t get the big hit to get it across. It's simple: It needs to be better. That’s not tough to figure out.”