Yankees outlast White Sox 7-5 in 10 innings in South Side thriller
After Jose Abreu tied the score with a home run with two outs in the ninth inning, the Yankees scored three runs in the 10th to win the game.
White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease is on his way to putting together one of the quietest 200-strikeout seasons in a long time.
With his six strikeouts in the Sox’ 7-5 loss Saturday to the Yankees, Cease now has 165 for the season. That puts him ahead of left-hander Carlos Rodon for the most in the Sox’ rotation and puts him fifth on the list of all starters across the majors.
The Yankees-Sox series has had a playoff atmosphere, complete with late-inning drama in the first two games.
‘‘This game today, it makes you feel really excited and proud to have this uniform on,’’ Sox manager Tony La Russa said of his team’s fight despite the loss. ‘‘You could see clearly that both teams are putting a lot of importance on competing and winning the game, and that makes for the best entertainment.’’
Looking ahead, Cease might play an important role on the Sox’ postseason pitching staff. He has been a workhorse. After his start Saturday, he has thrown the second-most innings on the staff (124⅔) behind right-hander Lucas Giolito.
Cease’s outing against the Yankees pushed his streak to seven consecutive starts with three runs allowed or fewer, dating to July 5. He threw five innings and held the Yankees to three runs, even though they put balls in the air on a lot of hard contact.
Cease threw 62 of his 103 pitches for strikes and allowed only four baserunners, all on hits.
The Yankees got to Cease early, scoring two runs in the first on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Judge and a solo home run by Joey Gallo. Cease gave up another run in the third, when Brett Gardner hit a two-out triple and scored on a double by Judge.
Otherwise, Cease posted three-up, three-down frames in the second and fifth innings and allowed only one baserunner in his last two innings.
Cease said he didn’t feel like his off-speed pitches were working, but he adjusted and attacked with his velocity.
‘‘I’ve got a couple of ways I can attack batters,’’ Cease said. ‘‘Days where I’m not spinning it quite as well, I can tap the fastball.’’
Offensively, the Sox supported Cease’s efforts, scoring a run in each of the first three innings. Tim Anderson scored on a double by Jose Abreu in the first, Luis Robert hit a solo homer in the second and Cesar Hernandez scored on Abreu’s second double of the night in the third.
A homer by Judge off Craig Kimbrel in the eighth gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead, but Abreu forced extra innings with a solo homer off Chad Green with two outs in the ninth.
In the top of the 10th, Liam Hendriks gave up three runs, two of them on a homer to Gallo — the 11th homer he has allowed this season — putting the Sox down 7-4. They scored once and loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, but Tim Anderson grounded into a force to end it.
The Sox’ starting rotation has been one of the strongest in baseball. As a group, Sox starters had the highest strikeout rate in the American League (27.4%) entering play Saturday and trailed only the Dodgers in the majors. Their .217 batting average allowed was the lowest in the AL and third-lowest in the majors.
The Sox’ rotation is posting numbers like this largely because of the seasons that right-hander Lance Lynn and Rodon are having, but Cease’s performance has been nearly commensurate with theirs.
If there’s a shortcoming in Cease’s game, it might be his efficiency. He has gone into the seventh inning in only two of his 24 starts, and his 103 pitches marked the fifth time he has needed at least 100 in a start this season.
But Cease is showing signs of improvement there. His walk rate (9.5%) and WHIP (1.27) are the lowest of his career, and his average number of pitches thrown per plate appearance is creeping down, too. Before his start Saturday, he was averaging 4.13 pitches per plate appearance, down from 4.24 in 2020.