John Danks (8-7, 3.29 ERA) kept a no-hitter going into the seventh when Angels center fielder Reggie Willits singled to break up the party. Danks stayed dominant, however, and finished off nine strong innings on 111 pitches with seven strikeouts and no walks as the Sox took the win 1-0. His effort moves the Sox a season-best eight games above the .500 mark.
The Sox continue their roll having won 22 of their last 27 games. Make no mistake, the starting pitching is a huge reason why. The starters are 17-5 with a 2.35 ERA in their last 28 games and in that span have accounted for 25 quality starts. “We knew that [the staff] would come together,” AJ Pierzynski said after the game, “We were just hoping it would come together in the beginning of the year instead of waiting two months in.”
Danks had his slider working Thursday afternoon and that helped him attain the quality outing Sox fans have grown accustomed to seeing throughout this stretch. “He deserves the credit,” Pierzynski said. “He had the best slider he’s had in a long time. We just kept throwing slider after slider. We’d get behind in the count, ahead in the count and he just kept jamming them and getting pop-ups.”
The thing the Sox are likely happiest about today–other than the win–is that Danks’ effort allows them to rest a very tired bullpen. JJ Putz, Sergio Santos and Matt Thornton have all worked quite a bit in the last two or three games with Jake Peavy’s injury on Tuesday and a rain-delay marathon on Wednesday. The complete game allows Ozzie Guillen to rest his big horses in the pen and make a strong push in the final days before the All-Star break.
Quick Hits: It sounds more and more like Daniel Hudson will be the man called on to take Jake Peavy’s start on Sunday. AJ Pierzynski threw Hudson some compliments after the game Thursday saying, “From every report I’ve got, he’s been throwing the ball outstanding. He doesn’t walk guys; he comes right after them and that’s all you can ask for. As long as he doesn’t walk guys he’ll be fine. He has good stuff. He throws strikes. He has a great change-up, a good curveball, a good sinker. As long as he’s ahead in the count and throws strikes, he’ll be fine.”