Angels-White Sox Preview
John Danks is the weakest link in a Chicago White Sox rotation that has been dominant. The Los Angeles Angels roughed him up last summer as part of a dismal stretch for the left-hander.
Danks looks to avoid dropping his first three starts for the first time in his career Thursday when the White Sox and Angels conclude a four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago (10-5) is among the major league leaders with nine wins and a 2.88 ERA from its starters after Chris Sale allowed an unearned run and two hits over seven-plus innings of a 2-1 victory Wednesday to become the first four-game winner in the majors.
The White Sox are off to their best start since also opening 10-5 in 2006.
"I think it's important, individually and as a team, to try to get off on the right foot," Sale said. "To start out with some momentum, that's important. We're just going to try to ride this out as long as we can."
The numbers for the rotation would be even better if not for Danks' struggles. He owns a 7.94 ERA in a pair of losses after allowing five runs over 6 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Saturday.
"I threw the ball a lot better than my line will show," Danks told MLB's official website. "Threw some good pitches down. Didn't swing. Didn't get a call. It just didn't matter. That's the way it goes. It's part of it. It's baseball."
Danks lost his last three starts in 2015 behind a 6.19 ERA and is 1-9 with a 5.06 ERA in his past 12 outings.
"This thing is about wins and losses," Danks said. "It's disappointing."
One of the losses during that poor 12-start stretch came against Los Angeles (6-9) on Aug. 18. Danks allowed five runs over seven innings of a 5-3 defeat, dropping him to 0-2 with a 4.33 ERA in his last four matchups.
Surprisingly, Mike Trout has gone 0 for 8 with four strikeouts when facing Danks. Yunel Escobar is 6 for 14, Johnny Giavotella 5 for 14 and Albert Pujols 3 for 10 with a homer.
The Angels are struggling at the plate with 18 runs and a .206 average while losing five of six. Trout, however, ended a 3-for-18 slump by having three of his team's four hits Wednesday, while Pujols fell to 0 for 11 in the first three games of this series.
Los Angeles lost 5-0 on Tuesday after a 7-0 win Monday.
"These guys are proven hitters. These guys are going to come around," said Garrett Richards, who took the loss Wednesday. "Our offense is going to click. It's inevitable. We have to hang in there and grind together."
The Angels will send Jered Weaver (1-0, 4.35 ERA) to mound, and he's probably looking forward to facing Chicago. The right-hander has won each of his last six starts against the White Sox behind a 2.35 ERA and is 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA - his best against any AL team - in 13 matchups.
Weaver, though, struggled Saturday as he allowed four runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings of a 6-4 loss at Minnesota. His lone strikeout gave him 1,500 for his career, the third-most in franchise history behind Nolan Ryan (2,416) and Chuck Finley (2,151).
"Guys had a pretty good approach against me early on," Weaver said. "I didn't quite mix my pitches as I should."