Frustrated Danks on early struggles: It sucks


Frustrated Danks on early struggles: It sucks

John Danks is in the first year of a 65 million deal that's paying him to be the ace of the White Sox. He's under team control through 2016, so one bad month shouldn't cast a pall over the next five seasons.

But April has been cruel to Danks, who hasn't come close to pitching like the ace the White Sox expected. The lefty again struggled with control Friday night against Boston, walking four and allowing seven runs in 5 23 innings as the White Sox fell to the Red Sox 10-3 at a chilly U.S. Cellular Field.

"I'm not okay with it at all. I stole two wins and pitched like crap the other ones," a frustrated Danks said of his start to the season after the game. "That's way too inconsistent. That's the deal."

Danks was quick to dismiss the notion that the 40-degree temperatures and stiff winds played a part in his rough outing.

"The Red Sox had to play in it too. That's just an excuse," Danks said. "I'm not gonna use that. Daniel Bard pitched his ass off today in that weather. Part of the game. We're up here in Chicago, we know it's going to be cold early in the season, and more often than not that'll be advantage pitcher. And it sure as hell wasn't tonight.

"You gotta make pitches, you gotta do your job and I didn't do it. That's the part that stinks."

After not allowing a walk on Opening Day in Texas, Danks has issued 15 free passes in 24 13 innings over his last four starts. Equally as concerning, he's only struck out 16 and allowed four home runs. And his ERA has ballooned to 6.23.

"Walks have bit me in the ass all year to this point," Danks sighed. "It's definitely something we're going to have to focus on, that and keeping the ball in the ballpark. It's frustrating, it sucks. It sucks to go out there and get your hat handed to you. We're all competitive, we don't want that to happen, and what are you gonna do? Try to be ready for the next one."

Danks isn't a stranger to slow starts, though. Through the end of May last season, Danks had a 5.25 ERA with 25 walks, 46 strikeouts and 11 home runs allowed in 70 13 innings. Eventually, Danks turned things around -- he had a 3.69 ERA with 21 walks, 89 strikeouts and 8 home runs in 16 starts after Memorial Day.

But this season's struggles have been more pronounced. Danks' changeup hasn't been up to par, as he's either struggled throwing it for strikes, struggled commanding it in the zone or both. He's thrown plenty of good ones -- about one in every five has resulted in a swing and miss -- but the bad ones have hurt.

Without a good changeup, Danks is essentially a two-pitch pitcher, featuring only a fastball and cutter. And since he's not Mariano Rivera, he's had issues.

"It was hit or miss. When I was able to keep it down, and really try to stay on top of it, it was good," Danks said. "But, you know, just struggled with kind of everything. That's the frustrating part of it, I felt good, I felt like I had good enough stuff to give us a chance to win and didn't. Wasn't able to do it."

There were stretches where Danks looked like a 65 million pitcher Friday night. He retired 10 in a row in the middle innings, but that stretch of success was sandwiched between a bevy of walks and hits.

Danks knows he's only made five starts. There's plenty of time for him to turn things around, and he remains hopeful -- even if he doesn't quite know why he's run into this maddening malaise.

"It's just been inconsistent, just gotta keep working on it and -- I don't know," Danks shrugged. "We're going to keep working at it. I know I have it in me, and hopefully starting next outing we'll get on the right track."

IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show Saturday on CSN

IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show Saturday on CSN

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to CSN for the sixth-straight year on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

The Playoff Pairing Show, also streaming live on and, will reveal the brackets and first round matchups for all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes.

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage to our on-air and online viewers on Saturday night," CSN Chicago VP/GM Phil Bedella said. "This show is the perfect precursor to kick off our IHSA Football season, which includes four live playoff battles, along with live coverage of all eight championship match-ups."

CSN's Leila Rahimi will host Saturday's show and be joined alongside IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard, Kankakee Daily Journal writer and bracketologist Steve Soucie. Preps contributor Edgy Tim and IHSA TV veteran Matt Rodewald will analyze each class with media members from around the state. 

[MORE: Complete Preps coverage

In addition, the Playoff Pairing Show will feature highlights, interviews, and team and fan reaction moments throughout the "Land of Lincoln" from numerous playoff pairing parties.

The IHSA Playoff Pairing Show is a precursor to CSN's live coverage of the 2016 IHSA football postseason. CSN will air one live playoff game during each of the first four rounds and carry all eight state championship games on Friday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26.

Viewers are urged to visit's channel finder to find the exact channel locations in their area.

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.