White Sox

John Danks, White Sox falter in home-opening loss to Indians

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John Danks, White Sox falter in home-opening loss to Indians

That was a dud.

It didn’t take long to determine it, either.

John Danks and the White Sox needed only five batters on Friday afternoon to quell the fan enthusiasm that normally accompanies a home opener. A little more than an inning later, the sellout crowd at U.S. Cellular Field had been entirely removed as a potential factor.

Danks allowed five early runs and Danny Salazar and the Cleveland Indians limited the White Sox, 7-1 losers, to three hits in front of 38,019. Following four days of standout starting efforts and sound play in Oakland, Danks lasted only five innings as he allowed seven runs (five earned) and eight hits. Todd Frazier homered and singled in the losing effort.

“It’s very frustrating,” Frazier said. “We’ve been doing our jobs the last four games, and we were coming in hot. You’re going to have games like this. It happens. We couldn’t really find a groove there with everybody, and that’s the way it goes.”

For the briefest instant, Danks’ season started off well as he struck out Cleveland leadoff man Rajai Davis on five pitches. Danks entered his start with high hopes after he did a good job commanding his fastball this spring.

But the positive vibes ended quickly on Friday with consecutive first-inning singles by Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor and a Mike Napoli walk to load the bases. Danks looked like he might navigate his way out of trouble as Carlos Santana hit a 12-foot chopper in front of the plate. Catcher Alex Avila gloved it and looked to flip home to Danks only to realize he didn’t have a play. Avila then threw wildly to first base, which allowed two runs to score.

“I saw the runner in the corner of my eye was going to beat him, and I just turned and fired and tried to get at least one,” Avila said. “Usually you just hold on there. That’s the first one I’ve thrown away in quite a while.”

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Avila said he didn’t help Danks any with the play. But the pitcher wasn’t about to let the veteran catcher wear the mistake that also left Napoli on third. Yan Gomes’ sac fly quickly made it 3-0, and the Indians were off to the races.

“When I peeled off, it looked like he was thinking about flipping it to me, and it got just kind of messed up,” Danks said. “Alex shouldn’t beat himself up over that. We never should have been in that position. And I certainly should have held them there.”

An inning later, Danks surrendered an RBI triple to Davis, and a Kipnis sac fly gave Salazar a five-run cushion. Any optimism left quickly disappeared, especially for Danks.

Danks looked as if he settled in after the first two innings. The left-hander set down 10 in a row into the fifth inning.

But Cleveland broke through again with four straight two-out hits, including an RBI single by Santana and an RBI double by Gomes to make it 7-1.

“I’ve been excited about this start for a couple weeks now,” Danks said. “I definitely pictured it going a lot different in my head.”

The offense, which has been prone to slumps in the early going, showed little life against Salazar.

The White Sox drew a pair of one-out walks in the second inning, but Avisail Garcia was picked of first base and Brett Lawrie struck out.

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“It was too big of a lead,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We're down by five. We need a lot more than just him scoring. So really, just shorten up and take care of it that way.”

The offense didn’t notch its first hit until Frazier ripped an 0-2 fastball from Salazar with one out in the fourth inning beyond the home bullpen in left field. Frazier’s second homer of the season got the White Sox within four runs, but they got no closer.

An effectively wild Salazar managed to hold the White Sox at bay for 5 1/3 innings. Though the right-hander walked three batters, the White Sox never mounted another serious threat.

Salazar struck out seven batters before he turned it over to the bullpen for the final 11 outs.

“This was one of those games,” Frazier said. “A little hectic day for everybody. No excuses. We’ve just got to come back tomorrow.”

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: