We don’t know what we have in John Danks yet. He’s topping out around 90 mph, he seems way more comfortable skirting away with his changeup than coming in on right-handers with his cutter. It places him in a permanent state of trying to get by without his best stuff, incapable of overcoming any added adversity.
So, on the second pitch of the game, Dayan Viciedo got turned around, pirouetted and dropped a fly ball on the warning track. And so it went, for an embarrassing 9-3 loss at Wrigley Field
An inning-ending double play by Alfonso Soriano actually carried Danks out of the first with only a run (an unearned one at that) of damage, but he simply lacked the tools for success multiple times through the order. He left after four innings with three-earned runs on his tab by way of two Dioner Navarro–villain of the 2008 ALDS and not much since–home runs, and it may well have been a merciful pull with less damage sustained than could have been.
On each of his first two blasts, Novarro jumped all over high changeups from Danks on the outer half. They sure weren’t pitches that were going to inspire paintings on the U.S. Cellular outfield wall, but on a day where Danks only threw five of 16 cutters for strikes, Novarro was all the more ready to jump out and crush them to the heavens.
As sharp as the back end of the bullpen has been this season, the contingent that Robin Ventura trots out when he’s handed a situation like a 4-1 deficit after four innings has been perfectly suited for its garbage-time role. Matt Lindstrom stepped into the sixth inning with one out and runners in scoring position, and immediately dumped a sinker past Tyler Flowers–with no help from Tyler, as is natural these days–for a run, before allowing an RBI single to old friend Ryan Sweeney a batter later.
The next inning, Brian Omogrosso served up Novarro’s third home run of the night, a towering blast on a an inside fastball that plated three runs and transferred the game from simply being a bad loss to a poor team to a particularly memorable blowout. ‘Dioner Navarro 3-HR game’ doesn’t just fade into the ether.
An arrestingly brilliantly three-hit performance by Jeff Keppinger, which included an 11-pitch at-bat ending in a single in the second inning–the precursor to a Tyler Flowers RBI single!–was the offensive highlight. Otherwise, the White Sox struck out 11 times, including an 0-10, six strikeout performance from the 3-4-5 heart of their batting order. Neither great nor new.
Team Record: 24-26
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