Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus tags out Chicago White Sox Gordon Beckham at second base on the second half of a double play hit into by Juan Pierre in the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 23, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)
Updated: August 30, 2011 12:17AM
ARLINGTON, Texas — Shut out five times all last season, the Sox were blanked for the sixth time in 2011 on Monday night.
So much for a lively start to a 10-game trip the Sox had rolled into with five wins in their last six and 11 in 15, thanks to Texas Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando (5-0).
Sox starters were 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in their last six games and 9-5 with a 2.89 ERA in their last 19. When the starting pitching is so good that it’s tough to know who to remove from a six-man rotation, it doesn’t say much about the team’s hitting when it’s five games below .500.
That’s where the Sox (22-27) stand after a 4-0 loss to the Rangers and Ogando, who recorded the team’s first shutout at Rangers Ballpark since Vicente Padilla blanked the Minnesota Twins in April 2008.
“He had good stuff, and when he missed his spot, it wasn’t by much,’’ said Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. “Pretty impressive.’’
The Sox put the leadoff man on in four of the first five innings and again in the eighth, but they did nothing with it. After Dunn led off the fourth with his 59th strikeout of the season, Paul Konerko got thrown out at second trying to stretch a deep single to left-center into a double. Konerko, one of baseball’s slowest runners, was thrown out by David Murphy but appeared to elude second baseman Ian Kinsler’s tag.
The Sox had five hits and struck out six times against Ogando.
“He made some good pitches, but again, when I got a [expletive] pitch to hit, I fouled it off,’’ Dunn said. “It’s getting old.’’
Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz hit home runs against John Danks (0-7). Making his first appearance since suffering a non-displaced hairline fracture of his right humerus on a head-first slide into home
April 12, Hamilton lined an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right in his first at-bat.
That held up as the game’s only run until Cruz, playing for the first time since going on the disabled list May 8 with a strained right quadriceps, hit a 401-foot homer in the sixth on a fastball down and in that Danks thought was a good pitch. Danks had retired Hamilton and Michael Young to open the inning, but he walked Adrian Beltre before Cruz hammered Danks’ first pitch to make it 3-0.
All of that could have been avoided had Beltre’s foul pop that landed near former President George W. Bush, wife Laura and Nolan Ryan and his wife not been out of catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s reach. Pierzynski gave it a good effort, reaching around a screen and laying out on the brick wall in front of Bush.
Bush was laughing. Danks was not.
“It sucks to lose,’’ Danks said. “I say the same thing after every start, and I don’t know what to say anymore. I felt good. I just got outpitched.’’
Danks, tightening his grip on the role of the jinxed pitcher who gets no support, has had four runs scored for him in his last five road games. He likely won’t be the guy who comes out of the rotation when the Sox drop to five pitchers, manager Ozzie Guillen said.
“He’s thrown the ball well. I think he’s had one bad game,’’ Guillen said. “We don’t do anything for him.
“He made a couple of mistakes —to the wrong guys — but I was happy with how he threw. Ogando was better.’’
Ogando is the third pitcher in Rangers history, along with Hall of Famers Charlie Hough and Fergie Jenkins, with at least four victories and an ERA no higher than 2.06 in his first seven starts. Ogando lowered his ERA to 1.81.