SEATTLE (AP) — John Danks has definitely been having more fun the last couple of months.
The wins don’t hurt either.
Danks had a big smile after throwing his second career shutout Saturday night. He allowed three hits and matched his career-high with 10 strikeouts as the Chicago White Sox shut down the Seattle Mariners in a 3-0 victory.
“I felt really good,” Danks said. “Really just trying to be aggressive and throw strikes. It was a bigger zone which obviously we like. It was fun. (Catcher) Tyler (Flowers) and I were together all night and there were some pretty good plays made behind me. It was a fun night.”
Danks (6-9) retired 16 of the first 17 batters. Kyle Seager’s soft groundball back up the middle in the third gave Seattle its only baserunner through the first five innings. While Danks’ best pitch is his cutter, his changeup had the aggresive Mariners’ offense off-balance and kept Danks in control throughout the game.
“Wow,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s been throwing the ball pretty good the last six or seven starts. I think today was the best he’s thrown the ball in a long time. His changeup was outstanding. It was the best pitch he threw today.”
After an 0-8 start and going winless through the first two months of the season, Danks has been on a roll. He is 6-1 with a 2.03 ERA in his last 11 starts. He’s had two games with 10 strikeouts and the White Sox are 9-2 in games he has pitched. Saturday was Danks’ third straight start of six-plus innings while allowing two or fewer runs.
“Strikes and his changeup is working,” Guillen said of Danks’ recent success. “Early in the season, we weren’t helping at all. He lost a couple tough games and he continued to throw strikes and when he does that and can throw his breaking ball for a strike, it’s what makes him good.”
Consecutive singles from Juan Pierre and Alejandro De Aza put runners on the corners for Chicago in the fourth inning. Paul Konerko worked a full count and looped a soft single into left field to score Pierre and move De Aza to third. Alexei Ramirez drove in De Aza with a sacrifice fly to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead.
Brendan Ryan drew a one-out walk in the sixth and Ichiro Suzuki followed with an infield single to give the Mariners their first runner in scoring position all game. Danks bounced back by getting Franklin Gutierrez on a called third strike and Dustin Ackley flied out to left to end the threat.
“You see why he is having so much success lately,” Seager said. “He is a tough guy to pick up, he has good stuff and he locates very well. He threw the ball real well tonight.”
Mariners starter Michael Pineda (9-8) pitched well, allowing just two runs and three hits, all in the fourth inning.
De Aza added a solo homer in the eighth inning off Chance Ruffin.
Notes: The White Sox placed OF Carlos Quentin on the 15-day DL and recalled 3B Dayan Viciedo from Triple-A Charlotte. Viciedo was not in the starting lineup Saturday but Guillen said he will start Sunday and that “he’s here to play.” … CF Alex Rios was scratched from the lineup due to a bruised left hand. X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day. He was replaced in the lineup by Brent Lillibridge. Rios came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth. … Chicago’s Gavin Floyd (11-10) faces Jason Vargas (7-11) as the White Sox look for a series sweep on Sunday.
(TM and © Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)