Dylan Cease gets a much needed strong start to help White Sox avoid winless trip
Improving to 6-3 and lowering his ERA to 3.81, Cease pitched 5 2⁄3 innings of two-run ball in the Sox’ 4-3 win over the Pirates.
PITTSBURGH — Right-hander Dylan Cease wasn’t much of a hitter, and he was a worse fielder.
His pitching, however, was good enough on a day the White Sox badly needed him.
Improving to 6-3 and lowering his ERA to 3.81, Cease pitched 5⅔ innings of two-run ball in the Sox’ 4-3 win against the Pirates that prevented an 0-6 road trip. He allowed seven hits and one walk and struck out seven. He got 17 swinging strikes.
“Coming out with the win is huge,” Cease said. “We were able to stop the bleeding.”
One of the runs was unearned because of his own errors.
Protecting a 2-0 lead in the third, Cease allowed a leadoff single to Michael Perez, then mishandled a bad bunt by Pirates pitcher Chase De Jong and made a bad throw to first, making two errors on one play and putting runners on second and third.
“The first thought was, ‘Man, that was terrible, I can’t believe you just did that.’ And then I let it go, and back to focusing on executing pitches,” Cease said.
Adam Frazier scored a run with a groundout and Ke’Bryan Hayes bounced a single over third baseman Yoan Moncada to make it 2-2. Cease would work out of first-and-third with one out that inning and escape a first-and-second jam with no outs in the fifth.
After going 3-for-3 with his first three career plate appearances against the Reds on May 4, Cease went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, lineout and double play.
Ryan Burr, who has retired 24 of 28 batters he has faced, finished Cease’s last inning, Aaron Bummer — aided by a rangy play by Leury Garcia — cleaned up Codi Heuer’s messy seventh and retired the five batters he faced and Liam Hendriks pitched a scoreless ninth for his 19th save.
Count Cease among those strongly approving of the Sox’ switch to Ethan Katz as pitching coach this season.
“He’s incredible,” Cease said.
That’s a lofty compliment.
“Well, look at the results he’s produced,” Cease said. “Look what he’s done with Lucas [Giolito], look what he’s done with me. Carlos [Rodon] is on another planet right now. He’s a good coach.”
With Phase 1 of All-Star Game voting concluding Thursday, catcher Yasmani Grandal is second, and first baseman Jose Abreu and Moncada are third at their positions among American League vote-getters. The top three at each position (top nine outfielders) in each league advance to the second phase of the voting, which determines the starters for the game at Coors Field in Denver.
After recording 13 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run, rookie left-hander Garrett Crochet has been scored on in his last three, taking a loss Friday in Houston and blowing a lead to the Pirates on Tuesday.
The big hits in those two games were on sliders. All four batters he faced against the Pirates singled.
“It all starts with getting ahead and staying ahead in the count,” Crochet said. “[On Tuesday] I got behind to the first batter, next pitch single. And then when I was ahead, I wasn’t treating the count like I was ahead. Like the slider to [Erik] Gonzalez, I kind of babied it in there.”
A first for Gonzalez
Luis Gonzalez, called up after Adam Engel went back on the injured list Tuesday, doubled to left his first time up and scored. Gonzalez started in left field and finished in right.