Danks, White Sox counterpunch into first-place tie

Danks, White Sox counterpunch into first-place tie
August 12, 2010, 2:45 am
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Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010
11:47 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO Last night, a muted Juan Pierre described the Chicago White Soxs abominable series-opening loss to the Minnesota Twins as an old-fashioned butt-whipping.

The unassuming speedster then speculated about what was needed in the second game of the series, the first tilt where the White Sox would be looking up at first place in a month.

It doesnt have to be a punch in the mouth runaway win, Pierre said. I dont care if its 1-0. We just gotta get em.

Well, in spite of Savoir Pierres admirable gentility, the White Sox did jump up and punch Minny in the mouth on Wednesday, regaining a share of first place with a 6-1 triumph.

Postgame Wednesday, Pierre had a big smile when reminded that he wasn't asking for a smashmouth win a day earlier: Yeah, but I guess we got one anyway.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, like the veteran Pierre, knows to keep the season in perspective, but was nonetheless relieved with the win.

I didnt want to wake up tomorrow and have to see all the people in Chicago panicking, he said. If you lose the first two of a three-game series, you lose the series. Now, tomorrow, we can fight to win the series.

Carlos Quentin led the romp with a two-run blast to straightaway center in the second and the White Sox pushed across six runs over the first five frames before the Twins countered with a tally of their own.

John Danks proved to be a Twinkie stomper, pitching eight innings of one-run, six-hit, seven-strikeout ball, and stranding six of Minnys finest. He eluded trouble all evening, most spectacularly by allowing leadoff doubles in two of the first four innings yet allowing no Twin to cross home.

What a great performance, great timing, Guillen said of Dankss work. Our coaching staff begged him to go seven, eight innings.

Our coaches are always begging us to go that far, said Danks postgame, with a laugh. There was no added pressure. Going deep in the game was in the back of my mind, but thats the case all of the time.

While Danks was frank in saying he hates to pitch against the Twins, dont tell that to the guys down the hall.

Danks gets off the hook by himself, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. You dont get many opportunities, and when you get them, you have to make a swing on the ball. He just ate us up tonight.

A moment of controversy in this combustible rivalry came in the fifth, when Twins starter Glen Perkins hit Quentin with a pitch for the second time since his dinger. While neither HBP did so much as blush the skin of Hulque Incredible, that quickly became beside the point as home plate umpire Mike DiMuro warned both benches, making retribution moot.

Guillen argued with vociferous logic that his Chicago-9 did nothing to merit such a knuckle rap, as Gardenhire listened in with bemused contentment over another advantage his Twins gained simply by showing up and grinding.

Everything points to Perkins hitting Quentin on purpose, Guillen said. I know 100 percent it didnt come from Gardy. But they kicked our butts yesterday and we didnt come close to beaning any of their hitters.

The first HBP was a 2-2 slider. The second one, I didnt want to leave it out over the plate where Quentin could hit it, Perkins said. It was a bad situation to hit a guy. Its unfortunate that happened. I was trying to make a pitch and yanked it a little bit.

Guillen, with a couple of rather infamous exceptions, refuses to retaliate for his own hit batsmen. And his pitching staff by and large echoes such strategic thinking.

Theres some point to playing out for revenge, said reliever Sergio Santos, who pitched a scoreless ninth. But the best revenge is playing in October.

Another surprise to come out of the game was just how uncharacteristically sloppy the Twins were, committing two errors and going just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

We made a lot of mistakes out there and cost us a lot of runs, Gardenhire said. We shot ourselves in the foot today and didnt perform very well.

They made mistakes, and we made em pay, said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.

Danks, who felt he had some of the nastiest stuff hes had all season even if his command wasnt at its peak, also admitted there was something a little extra attached to this game.

I had a little more adrenaline tonight, he said. We didnt want to dig ourselves too big a hole. We didnt like how the game went last night, but weve had a pretty short memory on this team, and we proved that tonight.

Some games, you just want to get them over with, for sure, Santos said in reference to Tuesdays blowout. But thats when you want a new day to go out and put your best game together. Thats what we did tonight.

Now on to a marquee pitching matchup of Gavin Floyd vs. Francisco Liriano in the series finale on Thursday, and reclaiming sole possession of first.

This game means that at worst, were a game back at series end, Beckham said. But were thinking about finishing things up in first.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.