John Danks has re-established himself as a front-of-the-rotation hurler for the White Sox. The veteran southpaw also realizes that one bad start on Sunday against the Twins would mean all of that praise going in his direction could quickly change.
"You are only as good as your last start," said a smiling Danks. "It just takes one for me to be the guy that's whatever they were saying. But I'm not worried about that."
Danks has worked 35 2/3 innings over his last five starts, allowing 24 hits and nine walks while striking out 21. He has allowed just two home runs in that span after giving up seven in his previous four starts.
The Twins will counter with veteran Phil Hughes (7-3, 3.09 ERA), who has rebounded well from a poor 2013 with the Yankees.
Signed last December, Hughes, a fly-ball pitcher, and Target Field have gotten along well. His home ERA is down to 4.25 from 6.32 at Yankee Stadium last season, and his K/9 rate (7.77) is his highest in the Majors since 2009 (10.05).
Suffice to say, he's more than comfortable in his new surroundings, and he's been a great value for Minnesota this year.
Hughes has only given up more than four earned runs once in 14 starts, and he has recorded at least six strikeouts in his last four outings. The White Sox have never given him much trouble -- his ERA against Chicago (1.99) is better than any other American League team.
White Sox: Abreu feeling good, looking good
Jose Abreu has hit in a career-high six straight games courtesy of two singles in Saturday afternoon's loss. Abreu also has driven in a run or hit a homer in 11 of his last 22 games, showing no ill-effects from the left ankle tendinitis that cost him two weeks.
"He's fine. He hasn't talked about it, he hasn't even brought it up," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Abreu. "Even when he's running around you see him running pretty good. Sometimes it looks like something is there, but he ran like that when he first got here, so I think that's just part of the way he runs."
Ventura also has been impressed by a better defensive setup from Abreu at first base.
"It gives him a better opportunity," Ventura said. "Balls that are in the dirt, he's just in a better position. Balls that are offline in the dirt, I think his hands are little softer than when we first got him in Spring Training."
Twins: Willingham will likely return to the lineup
Manager Ron Gardenhire held Josh Willingham out of the lineup on Saturday afternoon, but he expects the 35-year-old left fielder to be back on Sunday.
"We have to be guarded with him," Gardenhire said. "We've played a lot of baseball, and I don't want to beat him up too much. He's healthy. We want him to stay that way."
Willingham has been a consistent presence since returning from the disabled list on May 26. Before Saturday, he'd played in every game since his return, and hadn't had a day off since the team flew to Detroit on June 12.
Perhaps some extra rest will help him break a 2-for-18 slump that began at Boston on Monday.
• Hughes' 0.80 BB/9 rate is the lowest he's had at any level since a five-start stint with the Yankees' Class A club in 2006. At one point this season, he hadn't issued a walk in 178 batters.
• Abreu's 21 home runs tie him with teammate Alexei Ramirez for seventh most in team history by a rookie.
• The White Sox have lost six straight road games to fall to 14-22 (.389) overall this season away from U.S. Cellular Field. They went 26-55 (.321) away from home last season, which tied Miami for worst in the Majors.