Updated: July 20, 2014 9:31PM
Baseball just passed its unofficial ‘‘midway’’ point with the All Star break, but the numbers show that nearly two-thirds of the season
There is still time for the White Sox to position themselves for a meaningful September, but they need to do well during their stretch of 13 games against American League Central foes the next two weeks.
‘‘They’re very important games, and we see them as such,’’ outfielder Adam
Eaton said. ‘‘You have to beat the guys ahead of you, but you also have to beat the guys behind you. Hopefully we can get hot. That’s what we’re looking for — a hot month — and continue to have that momentum going forward.’’
Beating the lowly Houston Astros for a third consecutive time Sunday would have been a plus, but the Astros made sure it didn’t happen by tying their season high with 17 hits in an 11-7 victory.
A dozen of the hits came against left-hander John Danks, who avoided the loss because the Sox came back to tie the score at 7 before the Astros scored four times in the seventh inning against Daniel Webb (5-3).
‘‘It [stunk],’’ Danks said of allowing seven earned runs in 41/3 innings.
And it wasn’t expected, given how well Danks had pitched in his last nine starts (5-2, 2.85 ERA).
‘‘The further you get away from the [shoulder] surgery, I think he’s just stronger,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of Danks, who had surgery in May 2012 and struggled to a 4-14 record last season. ‘‘The arm action, being able to have control, and he’s added a bit of a curveball,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘There’s not just the feeling that he’s a one-pitch pitcher out there. . . .
‘‘He’s a little more challenging now. Guys like him, you used to be able to sit on one thing. He’s able to mix in more things.’’
But Danks’ breaking balls weren’t working, and the
Astros had his number for the second time this season.
‘‘We’ll have to take a look at that because that’s obviously something that’s happened this year,’’ said Danks, who also allowed seven earned runs in a loss to the Astros on May 18. ‘‘Thankfully, we’re done with them for this year.’’
Up next are the Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers and the Twins again.
‘‘We have to win all the games we can,’’ Danks said. ‘‘We dug a hole for ourselves the first half. There’s plenty of baseball left, but we have to get on a roll.’’
The Sox’ longest winning streak so far has been a four-gamer in early May. Despite winning two out of three against the Astros, they still find themselves five games below .500 (47-52).
‘‘The best thing to do is concern yourself with today and trying to win today’s ballgame,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘The rest of the schedule will keep coming; the schedule doesn’t stop. Take care of today and try to win and go from there.’’
The Sox still have a huge positive in rookie slugger Jose Abreu, who continues to hit. He was 2-for-5 with an RBI on Sunday, extending his hitting streak to 11 games and giving him hits in 29 of his last 30 games.
‘‘It doesn’t surprise any of us that he has numbers like that,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He just continues to play, and he’s not worried about numbers and things like that. He prepares every day, and how he goes about his work is the most impressive part.’’