The White Sox offense has put the team in a hole all season and this week has been no different despite losing competition.
For the second time in three games, the White Sox spoiled a strong start as John Danks’ solid effort on Friday night went to waste in a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 27,870 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Danks allowed a pair of solo home runs to Seattle’s Kyle Seager and Franklin Gutierrez but was otherwise untouched in six innings. But Taijuan Walker and two Mariners relievers combined on a four-hit shutout as the White Sox — who have been shut out nine times — dropped six back in the wild-card race.
“If we can score you’d be able to (win),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think pitching-wise we’ve been doing a good job of doing that and we just need to put something on the board.
“We just couldn’t get anything going.”
The storyline has been the same for most of the season: the White Sox don’t give themselves many chances.
Though the group collectively has picked up over the last month, it has been an eye sore for most of 2015. Whether it Adam Eaton’s slow start, Adam LaRoche’s season-long funk, Melky Cabrera’s cold spell, you name it, the White Sox offense has had a variety of maladies.
Headed into Friday’s game, the White Sox had averaged 3.82 runs per game in part because the team’s .305 on-base percentage, which was tied for 25th in the majors.
Run production is up nearly a half-run per game from late July when the White Sox went on a tear, winning seven of eight games in Cleveland and Boston.
But same as Rick Porcello and the Boston bullpen on Thursday, Walker and Co showed the White Sox offense has plenty of work left to do.
The White Sox had one real chance as they knocked Walker out in the seventh inning and loaded the bases. But reliever Carson Smith — who was drilled by a one-out Alexei Ramirez line drive that went for a single — got pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to hit into an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play. Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen retired the final six batters as the White Sox were shut out for the ninth time this season.
“Danks did a great job to give us a chance to win,” Shuck said. “We had a few opportunities and just couldn’t get it done.
“You create your own (breaks). We gave ourselves some chances and just couldn’t get it done tonight.
“It’s a tough feeling. Obviously you want to get it done every time. But the goal is to get a pitch and try to do whatever you can to put the barrel on it. I thought I put a good pass at it.”
Unlike Sunday, when they got to him in the middle innings, the White Sox didn’t produce against Walker. The young right-hander retired 11 straight batters and 16 of 17 before he got into trouble in the seventh and left the game with a cramp in his hip flexor.
Danks navigated his way through several potentially damaging jams in the early innings and was sharp until his sixth and final inning. He lowered his home ERA to 3.42 but earned his first loss at U.S. Cellular since June 17.
“Everybody’s gotta do their job,” Danks said. “There’s been plenty of times where I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. It’s part of it. It’s frustrating.
“If we played more consistent all the way around we’d be in a lot better position than we are now.”
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Seattle’s first two hitters reached base to start the game but Danks retired Nelson Cruz on a pop up to first and Robinson Cano grounded into an inning-ending double play. In the second, Danks gave up two straight singles but struck out Mark Trumbo, retired Logan Morrison on a grounder to first and got Jesus Sucre to fly out to right to strand both.
Danks — who allowed seven hits and struck out five — only allowed a single hit each in the fourth and fifth innings and kept it scoreless until Seager homered to deep right to start the sixth inning. Two outs later, Gutierrez, who also singled twice, homered to left.
“You start looking at Johnny and going through that lineup and the solos hurt, but we didn’t muster any offense,” Ventura said. “You have to be able to put something on the board. If they score two you have to be able to score three.”