It wasn’t that long ago that John Danks looked as if he was trending in the right direction.
Only 23 days ago, in fact.
But Danks has gone the opposite direction in a hurry since, including a season-worst outing Tuesday night as the White Sox lost 16-0 to the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field. Danks allowed four home runs, nine runs, eight hits and walked five batters over 4 2/3 innings.
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The 16-run loss was the White Sox biggest of the season, topping their 16-3 loss to Minnesota on Sunday. Things got so bad that Adam Dunn made the first appearance of his career, allowing a run and two hits in an inning.
“I felt great,” Danks said. “It’s a shame to go out there and get your butt kicked on a night that you feel so good. It doesn’t happen every time out when you feel great and tonight I felt really good about everything in the bullpen and I just got my ass kicked.”
Danks didn’t even offer a hint he would be good on Tuesday.
He didn’t have enough time.
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Only two minutes after the first pitch, Danks trailed 1-0 after a leadoff double by Shin-Soo Choo, a sac bunt by Elvis Andrus and an RBI single by Alex Rios. Adrian Beltre made it a 3-0 game with a two-run homer on Danks’ seventh pitch of the game.
The Rangers didn’t let up in the second inning as Robinson Chirinos opened it with a solo homer to right to make it 4-0. Danks then walked the bases loaded and J.P. Arencibia made him pay for it with a three-run double into the left-field corner.
Arencibia hit Texas’ third homer of the night to start the fifth inning with a laser to left to make it an 8-0 game. Then Chirinos dialed long distance again, another solo shot, to end Danks’ night.
In his last four starts, Danks has allowed 33 hits and 24 earned runs over 21 innings for a 10.29 ERA. He has walked nine batters, allowed nine homers and struck out 16. In that span, Danks’ ERA has risen from 3.99 to 4.93.
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“He has to be able to locate and if he's not locating, he gets more in the middle of the zone and that and being up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “His changeup's really good when he's going fastball in and he can spot that changeup lower in the zone and get guys swinging through it.”
Prior to the All-Star break, Danks was on a roll. He had made a series of changes with pitching coach Don Cooper in between starts in mid-May and rolled off eight good starts in 10, finishing the span with a 2.69 ERA in 67 1/3 innings.
Neither Danks nor Ventura sees much difference in the pitcher’s stuff over his last four starts. Danks, who had shoulder surgery in August 2012, has made every start this season and said his workload isn’t an issue, either.
“I felt good,” Danks said. “For the most part, I felt like I was able to make the ball do whatever I wanted, throw it where I wanted to. Obviously there were a few mistakes that got hit hard. Looking at some of the pitches that were hit, they were actually thrown where I wanted to or the ball did what I wanted it to.”
The punishment didn’t stop there.
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Choo homered off Maikel Cleto in the sixth inning and Texas batted around in a four-run seventh against Andre Rienzo that included a pair of wild pitches.
Dunn took over the delight of those left in the crowd to start the ninth inning. He threw a first-pitch strike to Elvis Andrus and got him to ground out. With two on and one in, Dunn got Rougned Odor to fly out and walked off to applause.
Colby Lewis took the run support and ran with it.
He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out four over nine innings.
“Guys were up and they were doing it to everybody, it wasn't necessarily just (Danks),” Ventura said. “If he's going to be up and falling behind, things like that, it can happen. Just not a good night all the way around.”