Sunday, April 3, 2011
Posted: 2:36 p.m. Updated: 4:31 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CLEVELAND With the way he pitched on Sunday, Chicago White Sox starter John Danks might be hoping that another root canal goes awry.
Danks, who spent an hour in a dentists chair during yesterdays game having an old root canal fixed, struck out the first four Cleveland hitters and punched out eight en route to six innings of mostly smooth sailing.
Dankss one rocky moment, while hurling under showering skies, came on a single pitch, a flaccid 89 mph, first-pitch fastball to Orlando Cabrera that the garrulous second sacker deposited deep to Quicken Arena.
I felt good, Danks said. I felt like I was in command pretty much the whole game and made a couple of mistakes that hurt us It was a 0-0 fastball, just trying to get ahead. For most of the game, I was able to do thatit was just a bad pitch, and OC hit it pretty well.
For White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the momentum of the game changed in the fourth inning, when Alexei Ramirez popped out on a bunt attempt and Carlos Quentin and A.J. Pierzynski were tripled off of second and first, respectively.
The game changed, totally changed, with the bunt, Guillen said. If we put the ball down with the bunt, maybe it would have been a different ballgame. John made only one bad pitch. He pitched very well. He continues to pitch like that, he will win a lot of games.
The Indians added five insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, upping the final to 7-1.
Cabrera improved to 3-6 in his career vs. Danks, with two home runs and five RBI.
Before OC cracked wise on Danks, things were looking sunny for a White Sox sweep of Cleveland. Chicago broke out to a 1-0 lead in the third when Omar Vizquel, starting in the finale in front of the fans who adored him for 11 seasons, stroked his 2,800th career hit. The 43-year-old scored two outs later, on a base tap by Paul Konerko.
The White Sox had designs on an opening-season sweep but had to settle for two of three. Now its on to Kansas City for a short two-game set in hopes of starting the campaign with wins in four of five.
We dont want to lose, Danks said. We want to win every game. But on a personal standpoint, I felt great out there. It felt like I had pretty good command. I was able to throw all of my pitches for strikes and really dictate most of the counts.
We dont have to regroup, it was just one bad game, Vizquel said. We just have to stay sharp and come out and play the right way in Kansas City.
Down in warmer, drier locales than sloggy-chilly Cleveland, rehabilitating starter Jake Peavy threw four innings of simulated baseball at Camelback Ranch, throwing 59 pitches and reporting no ill effects.
I do feel a lot better going through this process, he said. The throwing sessions and the treatments with anti-inflammatories have a lot to do with this recovery.
Peavy is recovering from latissimus dorsi surgery last July and has made a swift comeback from that surgery, which reattached a back muscle that had freed itself from the bone.
I did feel stronger, he said. Certainly I could tell I started fatiguing in the fourth, but I did feel better than I did on Tuesday during a 20-pitch side session.
Peavy said that his main aim in his first true action since an 83-pitch outing at the Oakland As on March 19 was commanding his fastball.
There are a lot of young guys swinging in the simulated game, and I could get a lot of swings and misses, he said. But pitching is about fastball command, and thats where it starts.
The confident ace pitched just the first inning from a windup, working from the stretch for his final three frames.
Pitching out of the stretch is where you make your biggest pitches, he explained. You want to feel comfortable in the stretch.
Peavy is next due to start on April 8, for AA Birmingham at Montgomery, where he will stretch himself out longer, with goals of 75 pitches and five innings.
I look forward to the rehab starts and having more adrenaline.
Danks pronounced his ailing tooth OK after the start, feeling no ill effects of root canal cleanup done just 24 hours earlier.
Its all rightIm staying on top of the medicine, said the affable lefty. Im fine. I didnt even notice it out there.
The Indians scored five garbage runs late in the game, but the contest shifted from nailbiter to rout on the left arm of Will Ohman, who has struggled in two outings so far this season and will pack a 27.00 ERA for Kansas City tonight.
Theres No concern, he said. Bother? Definitely. I mean, it sounds clich, but Ive been doing this for a while, and its a bad stretch right now. It stinks. But its not something that carries over for the season.
We only have so many guys out of the bullpen. I expect him to do better.
He do a lot of things. He pitch out twice. First base, he couldnt get there on time.
In his typically wry fashion, Ohman had a good bead on what he was doing wrong on the mound.
Yeah, when you throw the ball over the middle of the plate, guys hit it, and thats what it was, Ohman said. When I left the ball up, they hit it, and when I left the ball over the middle, they hit it Im completely healthy, on the same page with the catcher, just not executing.
As much as White Sox fans may be cringing over the possibility, Ohman is eager to get back on the field and chip away at his four-digit ERA.
Absolutely I want to get back on the horse, he said. It stinks because its early, and you dont want to start off like this. I had a chance to keep us in the ballgame today, thats what I wanted to do. But if this was two bad games in a row in August, it would be exactly the same: Frustrating, but not worrisome.
I did get him right back out there after a tough Opening Day outing, Guillen said. Thats the reason he went back out today. Hopefully, we get him straightened out I worry about players losing confidence, and thats the worst thing that can happen. We are only carrying 11 pitchers. We cant have somebody up every time he pitches. We dont have that luxury.
Doubly troubling for Ohman is the fact that hes one of the new arms in the bullpen, having signed a two-year, 4 million deal with Chicago this winter.
Any time you change teams you want to come in and start off right, he said. Nobody ever wants to be the guy thats not getting the job done.
Guillen joked that he had never hit into a triple play because whenever he came up with two men on base and nobody out, he left the game for a pinch-hitter. But he wasnt joking about how badly Alexei Ramirezs popout on a sacrifice bunt, leading to a triple play, hurt his team.
We are 0-2 bunting, and thats not good, Guillen said. We are going to hit with this lineup, but those little things, we have to do. Its impossible to go perfect, but I expect better things. Our little game has to be better.
Guillen argued the call initially, thinking the ball might have hit the ground before first baseman Carlos Santana snagged it. But upon replay, the manager thought the right call was made.
I thought it bounced first, he said. It was a very close play, so I had to go out there and check it out.
The jefe did sympathize with Pierzynski and Quentin, who were caught standing on second and third as the diving play was made.
I dont know, nobody knows what to do, Guillen said. I was screaming from the bench, and I dont know what I was saying: Stay thereno, come here. But I think that triple play changed the game.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.