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When the season started it seemed as if John Danks - he of the huge new contract and implicit designation as staff ace - would be one of the major keys down the stretch if this team (implausibly) found itself in contention.
Instead, it's baby brother Jordan - at 26, he's 17 months the younger - who, at least for a week, proved pivotal while John was riding out the season on the DL.
Jordan's walk-off home run far into the right-field bleachers was the difference in Friday's 4-3 victory over Oakland. It was hella good timing as the Sox had just inexplicably dropped two of three to the Royals at the Cell, their their division lead over Detroit eroding to just one game. (The Tigers also won on Friday before dropping two straight - thank you very much! - over the weekend in Texas.) It was Danks' first major league dinger and it was a doozy.
But those Friday night heroics were not the only notable contribution Jordan Danks made last week.
In the previous Monday night's nail-biter against the Royals, the game was tied 2-2 in the eighth when Tony Abreu led off with a double against Chris Sale. Chris Getz followed with a hard single to center, where Danks was subbing for the ailing Alejandro De Aza. In one of those plays that doesn't show up in the box score, Danks charged the ball and came up throwing. Paul Konerko quickly got into position as the cutoff man and Danks hit him chest-high with a perfect strike. Abreu was held at third, and Getz retreated to first.
Even though this is the big leagues, a play like that is often mishandled. Either the outfielder doesn't handle the ball cleanly or makes a poor throw, or the first baseman is slow getting into position - as the mighty Albert Pujols was on a play in Game 6 of last year's World Series.
So Danks gave Sale a chance to work out of trouble. A fine catch by Alexei Ramirez followed by Sale's equally skilled play on an attempted safety squeeze bunt and then a strikeout of Lorenzo Cain, and the Sox had the momentum - Gordon Beckham homered in the bottom of the inning - to beat those pesky (to us, at least) Royals. It might not have happened without Danks making a perfect defensive play.
All of which earned Jordan Danks a ticket back to Charlotte on Sunday night.
Blame it on the elbow of the Royals' Jarrod Dyson, who clipped Konerko on a close play at first base in Tuesday night's 5-2 loss.
A woozy Paulie was placed on the newly-devised seven-day disabled list for concussed players, and the team brought up none other than Dewayne Wise, whom the organization recently re-signed after he was released by the Yankees, to fill Konerko's roster spot.
Like everyone else, I still smile when recalling Wise's spectacular catch that preserved Mark Buehrle's perfect game three years ago. It never gets old.
And I respect Wise, who at 34 has spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors with six different teams, never having been a regular. Talk about a survivor.
The Sox are out of options with Wise, so Danks became the odd man out when the team opted to dip into the farm system for additional pitching help -
Hector Santiago Donnie Veal figures to get the call - for the seven-game road trip this week to Toronto and Kansas City.
We haven't seen the last of Jordan Danks, though. Purportedly he's the best outfielder in the system, and he patrolled both center and left admirably in his two-month stay. Here he is, for example, running down danger in Texas.
Furthermore, Danks seems to be maturing as a hitter, posting a .265 average in his abbreviated big league stint after hitting .302 at Charlotte.
So once the rosters are expanded on September 1, Danks will return to the South Side, poised for more heroics we thought would be reserved for his brother this year.
The Sox have 49 games remaining, 23 at home and 26 on the road. Thanks to winning 15 of their last 20 home games, the team is now 32-26 at the Cell and 30-25 on the road.
Meanwhile, Detroit, which trails the Sox by three games in the loss column, plays 25 of its remaining 47 games at Comerica Park, where the Tigers have a 33-23 record. Of course, that speaks for itself, but the Tigers are beatable on the road with a 28-31 mark after dropping those two decisions over the weekend.
While the Sox tangle with the Blue Jays - still without the injured Jose Batista - Detroit will visit Minnesota for three games. In fact, the Tigers play the Twins nine more times this season. So far Detroit holds just a 5-4 edge over Minnesota, so one might expect that the lowly Twins will give Prince, Miggy, and the boys a run for their money starting this evening.
Detroit also has 10 games - six on the road - left against Kansas City, whom they have dominated by winning seven of eight so far this year. As Hawk Harrelson continually reminds his viewers, the Royals have been tough on the White Sox, holding a 5-4 advantage over our guys with nine games left to be played.
So while seven crucial games - three at Comerica and four at the Cell - remain between the Sox and Tigers, Kansas City will have a lot to say about who wins the Central Division.
Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox beat. He welcomes your comments.
1. From Robert Anderson:
He is dour. A sourpuss. A killjoy. A wet blanket. He is like a bitter old grandma who spoils the fun at a family gathering. We have the best guys on the radio. Stoney is magnificent. Why do the Sox hold onto this guy? And he can only speak in cliches. Seems I have been listening to him for 30 years - since he did radio with the late great Don Drysdale. His time has come and gone.
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