So much for a bump from a three-homer barrage and a walk-off victory the day before.
The White Sox got dominated by a rookie pitcher, who won for the first time on the road, in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers on Thursday night.
“Momentum is great, but you have to show up and win the next one,” Sox right-hander Dylan Cease said.
The deflating loss dropped the Sox to 39-42 at the halfway point of the season and six games behind the idle Twins, who took two of three from the Sox this week. This was the Sox’ third loss in four games on a homestand opening a stretch of 17 games against division opponents.
“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than what we’ve been playing at,” said Cease, who continued to pitch like the Sox’ ace with six innings of one-run ball. “We are going to keep putting in the work, and there’s still a lot of season left. I wouldn’t count us out of it yet.”
After being dead quiet for eight innings, the Sox had a shot in the ninth against closer Gregory Soto when Luis Robert doubled past diving first baseman Spencer Torkelson, driving in the Sox’ first run and putting the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third.
But Jose Abreu chased a high fastball well out of the zone for a strikeout, and Eloy Jimenez, whose home run and three RBI sparked the Sox in a 9-8 win in 10 innings against the Twins on Wednesday, grounded out to end the game.
Right-hander Beau Brieske, who entered with a 1-6 record, 4.54 ERA and no wins on the road, held the Sox hitless through five innings.
Cease, meanwhile, allowed three hits, including a homer by former Cub Javy Baez.
Baez, who was booed by fans among the 21,086 at Guaranteed Rate Field before his first at-bat, hit his eighth homer in the fourth on a slider, a pitch that helped Cease get eight strikeouts and 16 swings and misses from his 101 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 2.45.
Detroit made it 2-0 in the ninth on Torkelson’s RBI single against Tanner Banks.
The Tigers stretched their winning streak to five, and did it against Cease, who was 10-0 with a 1.91 career ERA against Detroit going in.
The Sox are 5-2 against the Tigers and 17-9 against them since last season. They’ve run into too many outs this season, and another baserunning miscue surfaced in the seventh, when Abreu, on first base and anticipating a wild pitch that didn’t happen, got caught between first and second to end the inning with Yoan Moncada batting.
Abreu, batting .290, extended his hitting streak to 12 games but had his toughest at-bat in the ninth.
“With the stuff Soto’s got, you’ve got to start the bat or you’ll never get to it,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Had the right guy up. Got ahead of him, and that was the key. First pitch a strike, and that made him control the at-bat.”
“It’s a tough ballgame,” said AJ Pollock, who was 0-for-3 with a walk and made a nice running catch in right-center field. “The numbers aren’t saying it’s a slam dunk to get that runner in no matter how good you are. Especially against the closer out there. We put ourselves in position to tie it, and it just didn’t work out. That’s the guy we want up every time.”
Against Brieske, “we made enough contact to get something on the board, but he was very impressive,” La Russa said.
The Sox are 10-15 against the American League Central and 14-9 in one-run games.
“Everyone wants to explain stuff,” Pollock said. “It’s tough. [The opponents] are on scholarship, too, you know?
‘‘Guys aren’t thinking we stink out there. Some nights you stink. But overall we have a talented group, and baseball is tough. You’ve just got to get to work, and you keep working, working.”