Dylan Cease extends scoreless streak as White Sox hammer Guardians

Cease has thrown a career-high 20 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings — 18 2/3 innings after he was left off the American League All-Star team.

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Cleveland Guardians v Chicago White Sox

Dylan Cease has a 0.42 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Chase Agnello-Dean/Getty Images

Dylan Cease still feels the sting of an All-Star Game snub, but that frustration has been channeled into the primary mission of leading the White Sox to the American League Central title.

Cease heightened his crusade Sunday by pitching six scoreless innings that triggered the Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Guardians.

“I think I should have at least been highly, highly considered,” said Cease, who didn’t watch Tuesday’s Mid-Summer Classic. “Just trying to win is enough motivation for me, but I’ll take any chip on my shoulder I can get.”

Besides, Cease (10-4) and the Sox have bigger team goals. They finished a 19-game stretch against the AL Central with a 10-9 record, but Cease allowed one run over 24‰ innings during that stretch, and he has posted a 0.42 ERA in his last 11 starts.

During that 19-game span, the Sox (48-48) cut their deficit by one-half game and still trail the Twins by four games. But performances such as Cease’s scoreless streak, Eloy Jimenez’s second home run in as many games and homers by Leury Garcia and AJ Pollock during a five-run second off formidable Shane Bieber raised confidence that the Sox might have turned the corner.

“We hung in there well,” Cease said. “Obviously, there’s more ground to make up, but we’re staying in it and we’re definitely coming.”

Said manager Tony La Russa: “An outstanding team win.”

And more help could be on the way with the Aug. 2 trade deadline approaching. The Cubs had a scout watching Sunday’s game, and they possess relief pitching that could fortify the chances of several postseason contenders — including the Sox.

Closer David Robertson has limited left-handed hitters to a .137 batting average with 29 strikeouts in 73 at-bats and is expected to be highly coveted.

For now, the Sox, who have won seven of their last 10 games, believe there is ample momentum within their roster.

“When we get runs early with Dylan throwing, it’s obviously a good feeling,” said Pollock, whose three-run homer capped a five-run second. “You tack on one or two more in the middle of the game, great. [Cease] has been outstanding the whole year. He helps the bullpen. The game was in good shape, and we were able to squeak by.”

Cease struck out four — one shy of his season low against the Guardians on April 21. But he worked out of a jam with consecutive called third strikes on Austin Hedges and Myles Straw to end the second.

“They put the ball in play a lot more,” said Cease, who recorded only eight swings and misses while throwing his slider 52 times among his 97 pitches. “I just had to find other ways to get outs.”

Steven Kwan hit a line drive off the upper right thigh of Cease with two out in the fifth, but Cease shrugged off the blow to induce Amed Rosario to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

“You can’t doubt his credentials,” La Russa said of the All-Star snub. “Every year, somebody misses. But he handled it. He just kept pitching.

“He’s happy, he pitches. Disappointed, he pitches. He’s an old pro at a young age.”

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