There's a strong dosage of realism guiding John Danks whenever he takes the mound.
The veteran hurler, who is the second-longest tenured member of the White Sox behind captain Paul Konerko, would like to be able to reach back and throw pitches past opposing hitters. But that was never the reason behind Danks' success, and it certainly hasn't been the case since undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August, 2012.
So when Danks faces off against the Astros in Sunday's series finale at Minute Maid Park, his focus will be the same as any of his previous eight starts this season -- throw consistently within the zone.
"Just continue to cut down walks," said Danks of his main focus from start to start. "My stuff isn't where it used to be where I feel like I have a chance to punch out the side even if I walk a couple. I have to make them earn it and try to induce as weak of contact as possible."
After issuing four walks in three of his first five starts and walking 17 over his first 31 innings pitched, Danks' accuracy has improved. He has walked six over his last three starts covering 17 innings pitched, but he has allowed four homers during that stretch.
Danks has made six quality starts this season, and aside from an eight-run outburst hung on him by Cleveland on May 2, he has been a steadying force in the rotation. Since early on in Spring Training, Danks talked about how the ball was coming out of his hand differently than last year, and he has relied more on his changeup than any season before in his career. Per Fangraphs.com, Danks has thrown that particular pitch 28.7 percent of the time.
"I think I've pitched better than what my numbers say," said Danks, who would have a 3.76 ERA without that Cleveland start. "I've been down this road before and I try not to get too high or low. Try not to worry about where I'm at, at this point. Just go out and try to give us a chance to win every start."
Astros starter Brad Peacock is coming off one his best performances, according to manager Bo Porter. On Monday against Texas, he struck out a career-high 11 batters in six innings and wound up taking the loss after allowing four runs and eight hits.
After throwing four games in relief to start the season, he's made five starts and posted a 5.02 ERA. He's thrown at least six innings in his last three starts.
"I thought his last start, he had his best stuff," Porter said. "Even though in defeat, I thought he had his best stuff since he's been here. It was 93, 94 [mph].
"His fastball had the kind of late life I remember seeing in Washington. He really has been working hard on his breaking ball, and it showed up in his last outing. That's the best I've seen him throw since Washington."
Porter was the third base coach in Washington when Peacock made his Major League debut in 2011 and went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three games (two starts).
White Sox: Lineup has true .300 hitters
The White Sox have three members of their everyday lineup hitting above the .300 mark. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez checks in at .322, which is somewhat significant jump for a career .277, but certainly not monstrous. Dayan Viciedo's two hits Saturday moved him to .299, but Conor Gillaspie at .333 and Tyler Flowers at .306 are a bit more surprising than the other two because of the lack of a track record.
But White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes the team has a .300 hitter in Gillaspie, who has received high marks for his effective swing and approach from the White Sox since they acquired him in Spring Training, '13.
"He squares it up more than anybody on our team really, at-bat to at-bat," Ventura said. "You feel like he's the one who is going to make the most solid contact most often."
Ventura certainly wasn't ruling out Flowers from that .300 range. He credited the White Sox catcher for his great start, and pointed to an important sixth-inning, run-scoring single to right Friday from Flowers as an illustration of his development.
Astros: Bullpen remains work in progress
Considering the ineffectiveness and injuries the Astros have had in their bullpen this year, it's no surprise that the club hasn't been shy about making changes. They added veteran lefty Tony Sipp two weeks ago, and on Saturday signed veteran right-hander Kyle Farnsworth for the rest of the season.
The Astros made beefing up their bullpen a priority this offseason by acquiring veterans Matt Albers, Chad Qualls, Jessie Crain and Anthony Bass, but three of those players are hurt -- Albers (right shoulder tendinitis), Bass (strained intercostal) and Crain (bursitis).
"We brought in some veteran guys we needed to shore up our bullpen, and we've had injuries that have taken a couple of guys out of the mix, and [Farnsworth] became available," Porter said. "We saw it as an upgrade and it was something we acted swiftly on because he had other teams that [were in interested in] acquiring his services as well. I had a good conversation with him, and he's excited to be here and do everything he can to help us win some ballgames."
• Ramirez tied Chico Carrasquel for the fourth-most games played by a White Sox shortstop in franchise history with Game No. 845 during Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Astros.
• Adam Dunn now has 293 multi-walk games for his career. That total ranks second in the Majors since 2001 and leads all active players.
• Sipp has faced 20 batters this season and retired all of them. He has set down 11 via strikeout.
• Jason Castro has 15 RBIs over his last 20 games.
• The Astros have picked up at least nine hits in each of their last seven games.