White Sox

John Danks' shutout propels White Sox to 6-0 victory

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John Danks' shutout propels White Sox to 6-0 victory

HOUSTON — It won’t always work this way for John Danks, but it looks pretty spectacular when it does.

With a Sunday gameplan that called for keeping the ball down, throwing strikes and utilizing his defense, Danks accomplished something no White Sox pitcher has done in 41-plus years when he pitched a complete-game shutout despite giving up at least 10 hits.

Backed by a strong defensive effort, Danks became the first White Sox pitcher since Stan Bahnsen on June 21, 1973, to complete the feat as the left-hander led the White Sox to a 6-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Danks, who made his longest start in 53 weeks, also became the club’s first pitcher since Chris Sale on May 12, 2013, to throw a complete-game shutout as the White Sox evened their record on the road trip at 4-4. The White Sox, who went 9-9 in 18 games played over 17 straight days, are off Monday.

“That’s how you draw it up,” said catcher Tyler Flowers, one of five White Sox hitters to drive in a run. “We got ahead of the majority of guys, executed some pitches, two out of the first three for strikes, put the pressure on them to put something in play. Towards the later innings (Danks) started leaving some pitches up ... kind of hurt us a little bit. But we did a good job getting out of jams.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Houston trip jars Don Cooper's World Series memories]

Danks didn’t shy away from contact against a team that leads the major leagues with 68 home runs.

He induced three double-play balls and got 13 outs on the ground, including the final two with the shutout on the line.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura briefly visited Danks with one out in the ninth to give him a breather after a one-out double by Evan Gattis and a Chris Carter walk. Two pitches later, Danks got Luis Valbuena to swing at a 0-1 cutter that resulted in a nicely turned 4-3 double play by Carlos Sanchez.

Sanchez also stabbed a Jose Altuve liner with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning to start a 4-6-3 double play that ended with a spectacular diving stop by first baseman Adam LaRoche. And Gordon Beckham, who made three great plays at third, started a 5-4-3 double play off Gattis’ bat to end the sixth.

“I feel like I didn’t give in at any point,” Danks said. “I was able to throw pitches for strikes any time. Kept the ball in the ballpark. That’s a big thing for me this season: walks and home runs. Limited both, and it worked out.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu optimistic, eyes Tuesday return to White Sox]

Danks also had some good fortune, too.

With his team trailing 4-0 and no outs in the fifth, Houston’s Jonathan Villar tripled over Adam Eaton, who broke in, only to be thrown out at home trying to stretch it into an inside-the-park-home run. In the seventh, Villar overran third as Sanchez kept Jason Castro’s single from leaving the infield, which led to an inning-ending rundown.

“We played good defense today behind him,” Ventura said. “You get (Beckham) over there, and we have a little more range when he’s over there, and even Sanchy, some of the plays. We turned a double play with the bases loaded. Rochie over there with the nice pick, keeping his foot on the bag. That’s just limiting the other team to do that.”

All of it added up to a much-needed victory for Danks, who has recently struggled. After a pair of strong starts earlier this month, Danks had allowed 11 earned runs in his last 10 1/3 innings. The victory in front of 15 to 20 friends and family members is also the first for Danks in five starts against the Astros. It also marked Danks’ first shutout since Aug. 27, 2011.

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A Jose Abreu-less offense put him in good position to beat Houston.

Flowers’ two-out RBI single in the second put the White Sox ahead for good. Conor Gillaspie singled in two in the third inning, and Alexei Ramirez made it 4-0 with an RBI fielder’s choice.

Sanchez had a two-out RBI single in the sixth, and LaRoche homered in the seventh inning.

“I’ve been saying for the last five days that I need a good one,” Danks said. “It’s just the last couple I’ve struggled. Hopefully, this will jumpstart a nice little run. That’s the goal every time out. Go as deep as possible and give us a chance to win. These guys scored plenty of runs, enough to kind of let us relax.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Zack Collins hit two home runs as part of a three-hit day. He drove in two runs, scored two runs and walked once in a 10-4 loss. Collins now has seven homers on the campaign with an ungodly .421 on-base percentage. He's batting .326 over his last 25 games. Eloy Jimenez had two hits and a walk, and Jordan Guerrero gave up four runs and walked five in four innings.

Class A Winston-Salem

The Dash lost both games of a doubleheader, 10-5 and 7-0. Luis Alexander Basabe, Alex Call and Gavin Sheets each picked up two hits on the day.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and scored a run in a 2-1 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 2-1 win.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.