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Jose Quintana eases pain of John Danks’ loss

John Danks (above) will be out for while but Jose Quintanhas stepped up his place. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times photos

John Danks (above) will be out for a while, but Jose Quintana has stepped up in his place. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times photos

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:30AM

All was not lost when John Danks went on the disabled list a month ago. Jose Quintana came up from the minors and pitched better than Danks when the White Sox’ Opening Day starter was healthy. Danks was 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA when he went down.

“It’s exciting what Jose’s been able to do,’’ Sox starter Philip Humber said. “Kind of reminds me of what I did last year, unexpectedly came out of nowhere. Last year, he was in A ball, and now he’s dominating in the big leagues.’’

Last year, Humber was fighting for a job during spring training, then he was pitching like an All-Star in the first half. This April, he pitched the 21st perfect game in major-league history.

Now he’s searching for that lost magic. Danks’ injury might have kept him out of the bullpen.

It goes to show how delicate the art of pitching is. Danks’ mild Grade 1 strain of the subscapularis muscle in his left shoulder will probably keep him out beyond the trade deadline on July 31. He’ll begin a rehab assignment in three-to-four weeks if all goes well. It definitely will remind chairman Jerry Reinsdorf of why he hates giving long-term contracts to pitchers. He gave one to Danks this past offseason for five years, $65 million.

“Sports are a funny thing,’’ starter Chris Sale said. “You can go good for a season, three seasons or a month. [Slumping] Gavin [Floyd] and Humber could go on an unbelievable run, and I could scuffle for a month or so. Stuff like that happens. You have highs and you have lows, and you try to ride them out as best you can.’’

Without Danks, the Sox’ three top-of-the-line starters are Sale (8-2, 2.46 ERA), Peavy (6-2, 2.91 going into his start Tuesday against the Cubs) and the poised Quintana (2-1, 1.53).

Quintana’s body of work (351/3 innings) doesn’t place him in Sale-Peavy class, but he has done it against the Dodgers, Indians, Rays, Blue Jays and Cardinals. That right there is enough to keep the doom and gloom out of the Sox’ clubhouse despite the news about Danks.

“It is a blow, but you just keep rolling,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t think you can sit there and think about things you don’t have. You gotta go with who’s here, and Q’s filled in great for him. That’s been a plus that’ll help us more down the road.’’

The Sox had held their ground in first place in the American League Central since May 29 despite losing their last four series after the 13-1 run that ended June 1. They lost three one-run games in their six-game interleague road trip in St. Louis and Los Angeles last week, defeats that had their hitters standing next to Floyd and Humber and looking in the mirror, too.

“Offensively, we could be grinding out more at-bats,’’ Paul Konerko said. “I know I’ve given away a bunch over the last week or two. Not making a pitcher work. Not tacking on runs when we have a lead.

“We’ve had situations to add on or put the game away and not put more tough innings on our relievers, and we haven’t. We’ve also done a lot of things well or we wouldn’t have the record we have. There are reasons we had a bad week. If you played well all the time, you’d be 5-2 every week.’’

The Sox’ rotation has been a mixed bag, as well. Danks is left to look at silver linings: swooping in the last two months of the season to provide a boost.

“Hopefully I do come back and I can be the guy to help anchor the staff when these guys start running out of gas,’’ he said Tuesday.

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