Dylan Cease strikes out 11 in White Sox’ 7-1 victory over Royals

The White Sox increased their lead to 9 1⁄2 games in the AL Central.

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Dylan Cease delivers a pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Dylan Cease matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and allowed one hit over six scoreless innings in the White Sox’ 7-1 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night. It was the right-hander’s fifth double-digit strikeout effort of the season and the sixth of his career.

A couple of extra days’ rest between starts didn’t hurt.

“Yeah, I definitely felt fresh,” said Cease (8-6), who gave up one hit, a bloop single to Edward Olivares in the third. “Any time you can get extra rest like that, it’s always good for the body.”

All Sox starters except Dallas Keuchel are getting extra time between starts as the Sox

(63-42), who have a 9½ game lead over the Indians, think about the postseason. Cease (3.92 ERA) won for the first time since June 30.

Cease moved into a tie with teammate Carlos Rodon for third among American League pitchers with 149 strikeouts. Right-hander Lucas Giolito is fourth with 143.

Cease, who also struck out 11 against the Reds on May 4, got 21 swinging strikes.

“I kind of wasted a lot of pitches,” said Cease, who threw 103. “But, yeah, finished strong. It means a lot to me, and it’s solid. That last inning, I felt like I was definitely in control of where the ball was going. It’s hard to beat that.”

Andrew Vaughn and Tim Anderson homered in the second and third innings, respectively, against Royals lefty Kris Bubic (3-5). Anderson had three hits and Jose Abreu drove in two runs with a single in a four-run seventh. Abreu now has 80 RBI.

Michael Kopech allowed a run the seventh before Garrett Crochet and Ryan Tepera each pitched a scoreless inning.

Eloy is back, again

Batting fourth as the designated hitter, Eloy Jimenez returned to the lineup after missing four games with a sore groin. He went 0-for-4.

Jimenez missed almost four months with a torn pectoral muscle and returned last Monday, only to play in three games before getting hurt again.

Jimenez and manager Tony La Russa both talked about Jimenez knowing when to let off the gas.

“I think I need to be really, really smart,” Jimenez said. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to play hard.

“I don’t want to go back again to the [injured] list.”

Said La Russa: “I told him, ‘Run at a comfortable pace. Don’t try to stretch things into a double.’ We talk about not coaching the aggressiveness out of a player, but you’ve got to be careful.”

Jimenez reiterated that he finds the DH role “boring,” “but in this situation I understand.”

Roster crunch

With outfielder Luis Robert expected back, perhaps in time to face the Cubs this weekend, and with infielder/outfielder Jake Lamb using up his maximum 20 days for his rehab stint, rookie outfielder Gavin Sheets might be the odd man out.

Brian [Goodwin] is showing he can play all three outfield spots — that’s really important,” La Russa said. “Sheets has really been impressive, but can we give him enough at-bats to feel like he’s on the right track and not regressing? That’s really going to be the key.”

This and that

Right-hander Matt Foster was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte, giving the Sox nine relief pitchers.

—- Ken “Hawk” Harrelson will throw out the first pitch Wednesday.

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