CLEVELAND -- John Danks didn't have to wait until June 6 this season to secure his first win, taking care of business on Wednesday at Progressive Field during a 10-6 victory over the Indians.
He didn't have to endure 11 winless starts and eight straight losses as he did throughout April and May of 2011. And for that accomplishment, the White Sox ace can thank his offense.
It was a good thing Chicago put 10 on the board in the finale of this abbreviated two-game set, because Danks (1-1) didn't have his best stuff. Maybe it was the 45-degree first-pitch temperature. Maybe it was the end of a long season-opening journey, with the White Sox (3-2) having basically been on the road since the start of Spring Training in late February. Whatever the reason, Danks walked an uncharacteristic five over 5 2/3 innings and threw a less-than-economical 107 pitches.
"You gotta give a lot of credit to the offense," said Danks, who allowed four earned runs on seven hits. "It's a tough day to pitch. You saw every pitcher who went in there, it was cold out there. But we both have to play there, so I'm just happy to get the win."
"Being that cold, and the changeup, that probably had a lot to do with it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Danks' uneven performance. "[It was] probably a loss of concentration, you get a big lead like that. But he pitched fine."
Ventura could be on to something, in that Danks doesn't know how to handle prosperity.
In the first inning against Cleveland ace Justin Masterson (0-1), the White Sox scored four runs. In the sixth inning against relievers Dan Wheeler and Rafael Perez, Chicago tallied five.
Both of those single-inning outputs almost topped the White Sox single-game best in support of Danks last year when he was on the mound. Yes, there were two games when the White Sox scored four for Danks before his exit, three games when they scored five and three when they scored six. Nothing surpassed six in Danks' 27 starts.
White Sox hitters definitely had Danks' back on this occasion, knocking out 11 hits and finishing 6-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"I'll take it, especially on a day like today," Danks said. "I needed it. I was very, very fortunate to get it, especially against Justin Masterson. He's one of the better pitchers in baseball. For us to do what we did against him, that's impressive."
"Any time you face Masterson, any runs you get at all is huge," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, whose three hits helped knocked down a starter carrying a 2.13 ERA over 10 career starts against the White Sox into Wednesday. "To jump on him early -- the first four guys get hits -- and to cash them all in, it was huge."
Alejandro De Aza, Brent Morel, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko reached base consecutively to start the game against Masterson. Dunn singled in one run, Konerko doubled home a second and Pierzynski's sacrifice fly scored another -- as did a Masterson wild pitch.
Pierzynski added a three-run blast to right off of left-hander Perez in the sixth, with his second homer of the season coming immediately after Cleveland manager Manny Acta elected to intentionally walk Konerko with Morel on second and two outs. That long ball followed De Aza's drive off Wheeler with one out in the sixth. De Aza's second homer of 2012 scored Gordon Beckham, who had doubled off the left-field wall.
"That's the one thing I don't want us to do, to get a few early and then sit on it the rest of the game," Ventura said. "Guys were battling every inning, and you just keep doing that over and over again and you are able to put pressure on them."
"I got what I wanted. They just didn't go exactly where I wanted them to go," said Masterson, who lasted five innings. "You never assume that they'll find this hole, find this hole and then go to this hole and this hole. The ball's got to go to somebody some time."
Cleveland (1-4) cut the lead to four on Shelly Duncan's seventh-inning homer off of Will Ohman, and had the tying run on deck in the eighth before Jesse Crain struck out Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana to end the inning. This strong two-game effort sends the White Sox back to Chicago for Friday's home opener against the Tigers, who are the favorite to win the American League Central.
Feelings of extreme cold still hold a place in Ventura's memory bank from his inaugural home opener as a player at old Comiskey Park. He understands the first game at U.S. Cellular Field this season will be special, regardless of the temperature.
"This sounds corny, but it's a little bit of Americana when you come and have the opener at home and everyone comes out with all the bunting and everything," Ventura said. "It's fun. I'm looking forward to it."
Meanwhile, Danks is looking forward to having better control on Tuesday against the Orioles. He had the cutter and changeup working for him at separate times against the Indians, but found no real consistency with either pitch.
Wednesday's win counts just the same for the left-hander, even if he wasn't perfect.
"I'm happy to get a win in April instead of June," said a smiling Danks. "The walks certainly didn't help, and the Indians hit my mistakes hard. I was fortunate to have the run support I had, and [I] just tried to get out of the way and let these guys get back in the dugout."