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Levine: John Danks Has A Dud Against Tribe

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After two of his best outings in recent memory,White Sox left-hander John Danks hit a pitching wall on Thursday evening in his team's 5-2 loss to the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field.

Danks gave up four first-inning runs, including back-to-back solo home runs to Nick Swisher and Mike Aviles. Command issues also put Danks behind two runs earlier in the inning before the long ball damage.

In all, Danks allowed five runs, all earned, in 5 1/3 innings on six hits and four walks while striking out three.

"I made some bad pitches, and they got hit," Danks said. "I wasn't throwing strikes. It is always tough throwing behind in the count. I got to get ahead and stay ahead."

The longest-tenured White Sox player, Danks had won two straight outings, going seven strong innings in each victory. Danks is a former power pitcher who just has begun to understand the nuances of throwing off speed pitches as his primary weapons. He used to be fastball dominant and now continues to learn to spot his heater while varying speeds on other quality pitches.

The problem wasn't that didn't happen Thursday.

"The last two times out, he had been great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Tonight that was not the case. He didn't pitch well. Early on they got to him with the homers. We didn't hit either. The combination of that isn't a good recipe at all."

Since Danks had shoulder surgery in June 2012, pitching coach Don Cooper and Danks have been in  reclamation mode of this new process

"He's gotten there," Ventura said about the reinvention Danks has gone through. "I think he feels it and has gotten to that point. When he goes out there right now, he is not feeling for it. With some mechanical changes and a better idea, he has sprouted some new confidence."

Danks has no such confidence against Cleveland, against which he's 0-4 with a 6.09 ERA in his last six starts. For the season, Danks is 2-4 with a 5.11 ERA.

Nobody has been more frustrated than Danks with his lack of consistency as a finesse pitcher.

"He has had to make some adjustments, for sure," catcher Tyler Flowers said. "He lost a little bit of velocity, but ultimately it has made him a better pitcher. We have started to see that in his last few starts. He is starting to use other elements rather than just relying on his stuff. He has incorporated the changes in tempo, to mess with hitters and keep them a little off balance. I believe that has really helped him."

Danks persevered after the poor first inning before getting pulled with two on and one out in the sixth inning Thursday.

"Obviously at that point it was to keep it (the score) there and go as deep as I possibly could," a disappointed Danks said. "I had dug too deep of a hole and got beat."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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