CINCINNATI — It was the White Sox’ first game after losing prized center fielder Luis Robert to a severe hip injury, and Dylan Cease gave them what they needed.
A fun night at Great American Ball Park.
After a seven-inning shutout against the Tigers in his previous start, Cease tied his career high with 11 strikeouts in six innings of one-hit ball in a 9-0 victory against the Reds.
As good as those numbers were, Cease’s performance at the plate was every bit as remarkable, if not more. Batting for the first time in a game since his senior year in high school, Cease went 3-for-3 with an infield single, a double to the right-field wall after showing bunt and a single to right before Yermin Mercedes pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning.
Cease (2-0, 2.37 ERA) became the second pitcher in baseball’s modern era to record 10 or more strikeouts, allow no more than one hit and also have three or more hits at the plate in a game. He was the first Sox pitcher since Tom Bradley in 1972 to get three hits and is the first American League pitcher to begin his career 3-for-3 since Boo Ferriss of the Red Sox did it in 1945.
“He actually pitched better than he hit, that’s kind of hard to believe,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Using reigning MVP Jose Abreu’s bat, Cease said he was more proud of the hitting accomplishment. He was hitting home runs during batting practice last week.
“I didn’t believe I was going to go out and do that today, but I believe in myself, to be honest with you,” Cease said.
Before the game, Abreu acknowledged the loss of Robert as “a very, very difficult moment for us as a team” and emphasized the importance of the team staying bonded as a unit.
A couple hours later, Abreu homered against right-hander Jeff Hoffman leading off the second for the first run, and Tim Anderson singled in two more.
Anderson singled in another run after Cease’s double, and Yoan Moncada singled in a run before Abreu (2-for-4, three RBI) drove in another with a sacrifice fly in a three-run fourth.
The Sox (16-12) won for the eighth time in 11 games. Anderson called the victory “huge.”
“Injuries are a big part of the game, and we understood the situation,” Anderson said. “But we had to keep pushing.”
Jose Ruiz pitched two innings and Alex McRae pitched the ninth to complete the Sox’ shutout.
Goodwin signed to minor deal
On the day Robert officially landed on the injured list, veteran outfielder Brian Goodwin was signed to a minor-league deal, a source confirmed.
The left-handed hitting Goodwin, 30, can play center field and is a career .250/.317/.455 hitter with 42 home runs and 22 stolen bases. Goodwin signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates in February and was released by the team 10 days ago.
The deal hasn’t been -announced.
Infielder Danny Mendick was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte, taking Robert’s spot on the roster. Robert is out for three to four months with a torn right hip flexor.
Eloy ‘feeling better’
Abreu has been talking to Eloy Jimenez (torn pectoral muscle) and said the left fielder is “feeling much better.”
“He’s in a good mood, a positive vibe and he has big faith that he’s going to come back this season,” Abreu said.