Dylan Cease dominant as White Sox beat Angels 3-0
The 26-year-old right-hander allowed one hit in seven innings, walked none and struck out 11 — including Mike Trout three times — to improve to 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA. “This was the best start of my career by far,” he said.
Even in the midst of a breakout season for right-hander Dylan Cease, the challenge of facing Angels superstar Mike Trout was a little daunting.
“Yeah . . . he’s pretty much one of the greatest players there’s ever been,” Cease said. “I try not to think about that too much. I just kind of had a plan and stuck to it.”
Trout has ruined many a pitcher’s best plans in his Hall of Fame career, but not this time. Cease responded to the challenge every time. He struck out Trout all three times he faced him — the highlight of a scintillating performance that carried the White Sox to a 3-0 victory against the Angels on Monday before 13,112 fans at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“What we saw today will never happen again,” manager Tony La Russa said of Cease’s three K’s of Trout — respect for Trout as much as admiration for Cease. “If you look at the best combination of people and players that have ever played this game . . . Mike is tied for first.”
Cease’s impressive numbers tell only part of the story. He allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings, with no walks, 11 strikeouts and one hit batsman. Cease (3-1) retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced in dropping his ERA to 2.48.
“That was the best start of my career by far, from execution to stuff to results,” Cease said. ‘‘That’s definitely a good one to build on.”
And Cease, 26, turned it up a notch when he needed it. After Taylor Ward doubled over the head of left fielder AJ Pollock to lead off the fourth, Cease struck out Brandon Marsh on a 96.6 mph fastball, fanned Trout on a 97.6 mph fastball — his best velocity of the day — and retired Jared Walsh on a groundout to second. He struck out the side in the next inning.
“How quickly he’s developing is just very fun to see,” La Russa said. “And [against] that team and the way he kept it [together] . . . when he got [Ward] on base and he had to get the hitter out to protect the lead, [he was] just as composed and didn’t rush anything. Really, really impressive.”
The Sox’ struggling offense helped Cease by giving him an early lead. Tim Anderson led off the first with a single and went to third on Luis Robert’s single that left fielder Jo Adell fumbled for an error to put runners on second and third.
Pollock’s groundout to second scored Anderson. And after Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal walked to load the bases, Jake Burger’s sacrifice fly to center scored Robert for a 2-0 lead. Adam Engel’s two-out RBI double in the sixth inning made it 3-0.
Kendall Graveman pitched a scoreless eighth, and Liam Hendriks pitched a 1-2-3 ninth — striking out Trout looking to end the game. But Cease vs. Trout made this one memorable.
“I think it was a different pitch every time, which is even more impressive,” Hendriks said. “You’re talking about one of the best hitters, not only just currently in the game but possibly in history. And he doesn’t swing and miss too often. I’ve heard some people say his approach is he goes out there and sits on the pitcher’s best pitch. Well, Cease has five different best pitches. It’s unbelievable.”
The Cease-Trout battle was just a tough day for Trout but a big day for Cease. He was able to reach back for something extra with his arm without losing his head.
“I stayed pretty even-keeled today,” Cease said. “If you sit there and think, ‘Oh, my God, it’s Mike Trout,’ it’s gonna be hard to get him out. I was just staying focused on what I had to do. And it worked out well.”