CHICAGO (AP) — After getting roughed up last month in a start at Houston, John Danks decided to break down his delivery and make a number of mechanical changes.
The result has been a remarkable turnaround, which Danks continued with seven solid innings Wednesday night as the Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 8-2.
“I’ve probably thrown more bullpens probably in the last month than I have in the last couple years,” Danks said. “It’s been good.”
Jose Abreu hit an early homer off Detroit starter Justin Verlander, then singled to start a seven-run burst in the sixth inning that gave Danks all the support he needed as the White Sox won for the second straight time against the AL Central-leaders.
Abreu went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice. The Cuban rookie has 19 home runs and 50 RBIs this season.
Abreu has been the catalyst behind the surprising White Sox (33-33) staying within striking distance, but the star in this game was the crafty left-hander and his 80 mph (or slower) changeup.
Danks (5-5) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He has permitted just five runs in 29 1-3 innings over his past four starts since allowing eight runs (seven earned) in 4 2-3 innings at Houston last month.
“I think Johnny has really picked it up,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He went through a period where he wasn’t commanding his fastball and changeup. He made some adjustments and he’s really been different since then, not only with control but it seems like his velocity has some zip to it and his changeup looks better.”
Verlander (6-6) gave up seven runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings as the Tigers lost their third in a row.
“His stuff again was good. He just couldn’t muscle through a couple innings there,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t really know how to explain it. His stuff was good again.”
The seven runs in an inning matched a season high for Chicago. The White Sox also scored seven on May 9 against Arizona.
Abreu connected on Verlander’s first pitch of the second inning for a solo homer over the left-center field wall.
Detroit tied it in the fourth when Miguel Cabrera doubled and scored on a groundout by Torii Hunter.
Singles by Abreu, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Dayan Viciedo grounded into a double play and Abreu scored for a 2-1 lead.
It appeared as if Verlander might escape with just one run scoring, but Alejandro De Aza followed with a bloop single for a run, and Adrian Nieto and Adam Eaton drew walks to load the bases.
That brought up Gordon Beckham, and Detroit manager Brad Ausmus kept Verlander in the game despite the right-hander having thrown 121 pitches to that point. The next pitch was a 96 mph fastball that Beckham lined for a two-run single.
“We led off with three singles, guys getting on base against Verlander,” Beckham said. “You’ve got to have guys out there because not a lot of guys hit homers, unless your name’s Jose.”
Reliever Ian Krol faced three batters and retired no one. He gave up a two-run double to Conor Gillaspie and — following an intentional walk to Abreu — an RBI single to Dunn.
“I need to limit the walks. That one huge inning, I walked a few guys and gave up a couple weak hits and turned it in to a big inning myself when it shouldn’t have been,” Verlander said.
With the way Danks was pitching, the cushion was more than enough.
“I’m just trying to take it out to the field with me, and so far, so good,” he said. “But I’m not going to rest on my laurels and I’m going to get ready for my next start. I’ve been humbled in this game before, so I’m going to try and keep from doing that before.”
NOTES: Cabrera (left hamstring) said he was feeling better Wednesday, but Ausmus decided to keep the slugger at DH. “Give him another day,” Ausmus said. “We don’t want this lingering.” ... The White Sox have signed nine of their first 10 draft picks so far, with the lone holdout being LHP Carlos Rodon, the No. 3 pick overall. ... The Tigers decided to skip LHP Drew Smyly and keep the matchup between Max Scherzer (7-2) and Chris Sale (5-0) for the series finale Thursday. Smyly, originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday, will pitch Friday against Minnesota.