10:13 PM CDT, May 19, 2012
Cubs manager Dale Sveum helped out the White Sox, and John Danks did the rest on Saturday night.
The White Sox’s left-handed starter has had more trouble with left-handed hitters than righties this season. His confidence in throwing his changeup to lefties likely is the reason, but whatever the case, Danks entered the game getting hit at a .310 clip by lefties compared to .269 by righties.
Lefties also had a better on-base-plus-slugging percentage than righties against Danks, so the Cubs had a chance to go with their usual lineup, such as it is.
But no, Sveum started right-handed-hitting outfielders Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker and third baseman Joe Mather instead of Tony Campana, David DeJesus and Ian Stewart.
And nobody reached base until the Cubs had one out in the fifth.
Maybe it’s me, but this Cubs sabermetrics thing might need some work.
Sveum, though, wasn’t the only one helping Danks. A guy batting where Paul Konerko used to hit proceeded to hit like Konerko.
Entering this series when Konerko took a Jeff Samardzija pitch in the face Friday, Viciedo added a hit in two at-bats and made a strong throw from left to erase DeJesus at second base on the play where Gordon Beckham shouldered the Cubs leadoff hitter off the bag.
With Konerko sporting shades to hide the eggplant that used to be his left eye Saturday, Viciedo seemed to be the target in the cleanup spot. Cubs starter Ryan Dempster pitched as if anyone except No. 3 hitter Adam Dunn would have to beat him.
And Viciedo did.
After Dunn walked in his first two at-bats, Viciedo singled home a run in the first and then popped a two-run homer in the third for a 3-0 lead.
For a guy who didn’t look as if he had a spot in this series, Viciedo suddenly was taking it over.
What's more, Viciedo is hitting .478 with four homers and 10 RBIs in the last six games.
Danks, meanwhile, was perfect through 13 hitters. The Cubs failed to show much plate discipline early, requiring Danks to throw only 46 pitches in the first four innings.
After retiring Bryan LaHair to start the seventh, Danks was removed after just 83 pitches, having allowed no runs on three hits.
The decision by Sox manager Robin Ventura seemed curious. Danks was having the kind of game the Sox needed to see from him.
But then, Danks hadn’t won since April 22 and hadn’t made a start without giving up at least two earned runs this season, so maybe it wasn’t so curious after all.
Not as curious as the Cubs’ supposed march into the new math, anyway.
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