DETROIT — They’d rather not thrive in these situations but the White Sox have made a recent habit of responding well to bad news.
John Danks, Jose Abreu and Dayan Viciedo were in the middle Monday night’s recovery after the White Sox announced they will place two-time All-Star Chris Sale on the 15-day disabled list with a flexor muscle strain.
Just as they responded well to injuries suffered by Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton, the White Sox rallied for a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers in front of 24,997 at Comerica Park. Danks pitched well into the seventh and the offense ended a dominant performance by Anibal Sanchez with three late runs. The White Sox reached the .500 mark with their second straight victory.
Even though Sale is out at least 15 days, teammates said there’s a sense of relief after an MRI revealed no structural damage.
“I was more concerned before the game,” said Danks, who improved to 2-0. “I knew he was going to get looked at. To hear that he’s going to be OK and not miss too much time, that’s great. It’s a big shoe to fill. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and it wouldn’t do us any good to lose him. Fortunately we’re not going lose him for too much and I’m going to try to pick up the slack until then.”
If Danks can match Monday’s performance -- and he’s proven capable so far -- the White Sox have to feel better about their situation.
An outing that early on looked as if it could have been headed for disaster developed nicely. Danks pitched around a leadoff walk in the first inning but didn’t have as much success in the second when Torii Hunter singled and Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos walked to load the bases with no outs. But Detroit only mustered a lone run on an Alex Avila RBI groundout. Danks escaped further damage by inducing a pair of popouts and trailed 1-0.
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Relying on his changeup and cutter, Danks regained control.
Even though he allowed a hit in each of his final four-plus innings, Danks avoided serious trouble as he retired 14 of the last 19 hitters he faced.
Danks -- who went 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA last season -- allowed a run and six hits with three walks over 6 1/3 innings. He has quality starts in all four of his outings and a 2.84 ERA through 25 1/3 innings.
“He’s been good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “For me it’s more about his strength and endurance than it is about velocity. He had a great changeup tonight just keeping guys off balance and that’s the biggest thing -- he can locate better now and longer than he did before. It doesn’t have as much to do with the velocity. He can get it in there and move it around a little bit better than he did last year.”
The offense is also faring much better in 2014.
Sanchez held a 1-0 lead and had only allowed two runners to reach base when Conor Gillaspie led off the seventh inning with a double to right. Abreu then worked the count full and his fly ball to right landed just on the line -- a call that stood upon review -- before bouncing into the stands for a game-tying double. Viciedo then doubled off the base of the center-field fence for a 2-1 lead.
Viciedo, who is now 15-for-46 with 10 RBIs over a 13-game stretch, scored on the next play as Alexei Ramirez singled to left. Viciedo initially held at third base but raced home on Rajai Davis’ wild throw. Though he was originally ruled out at the plate, a crew chief challenge resulted in a safe call for Viciedo and a 3-1 lead.
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“The guys did a great job tonight getting those runs,” said closer Matt Lindstrom, who stranded the tying runs in the ninth inning to record his second save. He and Ronald Belisario combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings after Danks exited.
The White Sox have continued to battle through tough situations throughout this first month. Abreu homered twice and Danks beat Cleveland on April 10 only hours after they learned Garcia was out for the season with a torn labrum. On Sunday they produced a season-high 16 runs even though they were without their offensive sparkplug Eaton, who has a mild hamstring strain.
Though Sale’s loss is critical the White Sox feel good about their ability to nurse him back to health and handle the situation well.
“It’s something we have dealt with before and you just don’t want to take any chances and it just comes down to that,” Ventura said. “He got it figured out while the game was going on so get him some rest and get him healthy.”