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Levine: Danks Returns To Form Vs Yankees, But Bullpen Blows Lead

By Bruce Levine-

U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (CBS) -- The baseball gods have not been kind to John Danks since his shoulder surgery in 2012. Danks is 7-17 since his August 6, 2012 surgery with an ERA over 5.00.

Pitching coach Don Cooper admitted the Sox have been trying to get Danks to be more like his former teammate Mark Buehrle.

"We are still trying to get him to establish his other pitches beside the fastball "Cooper said on WSCR radio's Inside the Clubhouse. "Even Buehrle had to learn how to spot the fastball and change speeds."

Danks did that to near perfection against New York, shutting the Yanks out on three hits through eight innings. The bullpen could not hold the lead for Danks. Ronald Belisario gave up three runs in the ninth and Zach Putnam surrendered the game winning home run to Jacoby Ellsbury in the 10th.

"That is not the easiest job," Danks said about the late inning bullpen failures. "There is a reason why some guys can do it and some guys can't. It is not about stuff, it is just a different mindset in the ninth."

Pitch count had been a problem in recent outings for the 29-year-old Texan. Saturday, he was efficient enough to get through the eight innings in 104 pitches. The no walks and four strikeouts were impressive despite the no decision for Danks.

"He was jumping ahead," said manager Robin Ventura. "He had a great change-up and curve ball he was able to locate. When he is able to do that, he becomes tough able to keep everybody off balance. That is what he did today."

Danks tried to talk Ventura into pitching the ninth but was shutdown in his request.

"Part of it is just baseball," Danks related. "I hope Belisario is in to save my next game."
The unsettled and injured Sox pitchers have put Ventura in a defensive position as he tries to mix and match his way around late inning meltdowns.

"That ninth inning is the hardest one," said the White Sox skipper. "Guys senses are heightened in the ninth inning as is everybody on the field. Hitters are tougher in the ninth inning than they are at any other point."

The White Sox have lost both Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom to what appear to be season-ending injuries. Both closers may return late in the season.

As for Danks, the eight shutout innings was his best effort since August 20, 2013 when he shutout Kansas City for eight innings.

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