The White Sox first game in July looked like none they played in June.
Hustle was evident. Sound defense was delivered. Clutch at-bats were had.
John Danks was fantastic and Conor Gillaspie and Adam Dunn both homered as the White Sox opened the month with a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 19,746 at U.S. Cellular Field.
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Fresh off their worst month since June 1987, the White Sox looked like the team they were billed to be as they snapped a five-game losing streak. The team’s .296 winning percentage in June, when it won eight of 27 games, was its lowest since the White Sox turned in a 7-21 run 26 years ago.
“We’ve had some tough nights here the last few,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before he listed off a slew of positive aspects, including a strong game from shortstop Alexei Ramirez. “That’s stuff that helps you win games.”
Danks’ performance significantly boosted the team’s chances of a victory.
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He hit his spots all night. He mixed speeds. Perhaps most important, Danks kept an offense second in the American League in runs scored off the bases.
The left-hander had only one trouble spot in the third inning.
He gave up a solo homer to Brian Roberts to fall behind 1-0 and then allowed consecutive one-out singles. But Danks (2-5) got the Orioles’ third and fourth hitters, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones to fly out and pop out, respectively.
“Most of the hits were not bad pitches,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “They jumped early for that inning. … He looked great all night.”
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The Orioles didn’t do much of anything after the third inning against Danks. He retired 14 of 16 hitters before he allowed a leadoff single in the seventh.
Danks allowed two earned runs, six hits and walked one in seven-plus innings. He has walked one or fewer in all eight starts this season.
“It looks like he's really starting to feel better after his injury, so that's an awesome sign. It's fun to watch because he's struggled with getting back a little bit. It looks like he feels a lot better and the ball's coming out of his hand a lot better.”
Beckham was part of the reason it was a feel-good night for the White Sox.
Beckham, who went 3-for-4, singled in the tying run in the fourth inning as the White Sox shook off a slow start against Jason Hammel (7-5).
Two innings later, Gillaspie put the White Sox ahead 2-1 with a line-drive homer to right field.
Alex Rios made it 3-1 with an RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh and reached second base as Ramirez, who had two hits and a steal, stayed in a rundown long enough for Rios to advance into scoring position. Dunn then followed with his 22nd homer, a 429-foot blast into the right field bleachers.
Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth inning to convert his 22rd save in 26 tries.
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It was a rare perfect night on the field for a team that expected to compete for a postseason spot only to find itself 14 games under the .500-mark.
Well, nearly perfect.
After the game, Ventura said reliever Jesse Crain didn’t pitch in the eighth inning because of tightness in his right shoulder.
“We know how good we are,” Danks said. “We know we got a hell of a road ahead of us. We did it to ourselves. But we know how capable we are of going on a run. We just hope we’re able to do it, starting now.”