Though Josh Beckett was solid in his first start since throwing the first no-hitter of his career, the Los Angeles Dodgers might need him to be better Wednesday night.
Trying again for that first win since his gem, Beckett looks to help the Dodgers salvage a .500 homestand with a victory against the Chicago White Sox.Beckett (3-2, 2.52 ERA) allowed two runs and five hits while throwing 88 pitches over five innings of a 2-1 home loss to Pittsburgh on Friday in his first outing since throwing a career-high 128 to no-hit Philadelphia on May 25."He threw the ball OK and said he felt physically fine, but he didn't seem to be quite as sharp as he's been," said Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly, who could be less cautious with Beckett this time out.The right-hander will try to be more refined with his pitches as he faces Chicago (30-30) for the first time since 2012. Beckett went 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in his first five starts against the White Sox, but is 0-3 with a 3.81 in his last four.With Tuesday's 4-1 defeat, Los Angeles (31-29) has dropped five of seven since winning the first two of its 10-game homestand."We're struggling to put a few wins together, but we're not down. We're still optimistic," catcher Drew Butera said after the Dodgers' only run came via sacrifice fly in the second inning.Jose Abreu hit a two-run, first-inning shot for his second homer in as many nights and drove in three runs as Chicago evened the series. The Cuban rookie is 3 for 8 with five RBIs in two games since missing two weeks with an ankle injury."He's always a force," White Sox manager Robin Ventura told MLB's official website about Abreu, who has 17 homers and 47 RBIs in 46 games."If other guys around him start picking it up to where it's consistent, then all of a sudden you start making a move."Chicago's John Danks (3-5, 4.66) is 0-3 with a 4.21 ERA in his last four starts, but he has received six runs of support during that stretch. He's allowed two runs in 15 innings while going 0-1 in the last two.Those runs came over seven innings of a 4-1 loss to San Diego on Friday. Despite his winless stretch, Danks is happy with his recent progress."I'm confident, feeling good, feeling like I can give us a chance to win," he said.The left-hander is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA against the Dodgers, whom he has not faced since 2009.Danks will get his first look at Yasiel Puig, who is batting .390 and has an on-base percentage of .481 while reaching base safely in an MLB-leading 35 consecutive games.Teammate Hanley Ramirez is 1 for 10 in three games since going 4 for 4 with two homers, four runs scored and five RBIs during a 12-2 rout of Pittsburgh on Saturday. He's 2 for 3 with a double and a homer versus Danks.
Yasiel Puig has hit .400 in at-bats that end in a pitch on the inner third of the plate or closer since the start of May, the seventh-best mark among qualified hitters. John Danks has thrown 41 percent of his pitches to righties in that zone, the seventh-highest mark among qualifiers.
Hanley Ramirez has posted a .943 slugging percentage since the start of 2012 in at-bats to end in a changeup from a lefty, tops among hitters to have at least 30 plate appearances end in the pitch; the next closest is slugging .765. John Danks has thrown the highest percentage of changeups among qualifiers this season (30.6 percent).