O’s rout Danks, halt White Sox streak at 6
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BALTIMORE – The White Sox’ six-game winning streak came to a booming halt Thursday when the Baltimore Orioles pounced on struggling left-hander John Danks early and breezed to a 10-2 victory at Camden Yards.
The Sox had taken the American League by storm, coming off series sweeps of two 2015 playoff teams, the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, to build an AL-best 16-6 record, but if you expected a “can’t win them all” shrug over this one, think again. Even though it’s early, they know it’s a time to make hay.
“It’s early in the year, so what,’’ said third baseman Todd Frazier, whose two-run homer in the first against right-hander Tyler Wilson seemed to set a good tone for a possible seventh straight win. “We’re separating right now. You want to not separate? When do you not want to separate from other teams?’’
It seems early for scoreboard watching, but Frazier, who played on Cincinnati Reds postseason teams in 2012 and ’13, knows wins now count as much as they do in August and September. The Sox led the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals by 3 ½ games going in.
“Let’s get it now, let’s get some separation so when that time does come when we’re struggling – and it will come – we’re still on top because we have that separation,’’ Frazier said before the game when the Sox were still buzzing having won eight of their previous nine games. “I believe in that 100 percent.’’
When Danks was in the fourth year of his five-year, $65 million contract last season, there wasn’t much harm in having him do his part as a serviceable fifth starter. But now he’s in the final year of his deal, and the Sox’ torrid start has them playing for keeps. If there are better options at AAA Charlotte (right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was given a spot start Monday, and Jacob Turner has pitched to a 2.49 ERA over four starts to name two), you can be sure the Sox are considering them.
Manager Robin Ventura was noncommittal on whether a change is in the works, saying only, “Right now, we’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that so he can help us.’’
Danks (0-4, 7.25 ) is 0-7 over his last seven starts going back to last season, and has stood out like a sore thumb behind Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon and Mat Latos in the starting rotation.
“They’re dealing,’’ Danks said. “There are 24 guys in here that are setting the world on fire. That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. Shoot, we were hot and we still are. But I got in the way of something special tonight.’’
Working with an upper 80s fastball, Danks has little margin for command issues, and, staked to a 2-0 lead, he worked from behind in the count and gave up an RBI double to Adam Jones in the first. A nicely executed relay from center fielder Austin Jackson to shortstop Jimmy Rollins to catcher Hector Sanchez prevented Chris Davis from tying it up.
But two innings later, Manny Machado doubled in a run and Davis and Mark Trumbo hit back-to-back homers to make it 5-2. Danks got through five-plus innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out four. Jake Petricka relieved him and gave up a grand slam to Machado, making it 10-2 in the sixth.
It was a rare blowout loss for a team that is feeling it.
“You come to the ballpark and it’s like, you just know you’re going to win,’’ Frazier said. “There’s nothing cocky about it, you just feel it.’’
Along with playing crisp defense, and from almost everyone getting good pitching, the Sox say they’re winning because of things like chemistry and selflessness.
“The chemistry on this team is unbelievable,’’ third base coach Joe McEwing said.
“It’s fun,’’ Frazier said. “You know what it is? There’s no I’s on this team. Everybody is in the game every inning for the whole game. It’s tough to do. But if a guy is 0-for-2, he’s like ‘pick me up, let’s go.’ And you hear that and it’s contagious.’’