Streaking Cease does it again for White Sox: 13 straight starts with 1 or fewer earned runs
The victory evened the four-game series at one apiece, lifted the Sox into a second-place tie with the Guardians in the AL Central and kept them within two games of the first-place Twins.
ARLINGTON, Texas — In this topsy turvy White Sox season that swerves off the path of sustained success whenever it seems to get moving in the right direction, there is Dylan Cease, staff ace and Cy Young candidate.
Cease has never wavered. If you can’t recall the last time he had a bad start, it’s because it was a long time ago — May 24, against the Red Sox, when he allowed seven runs, to be precise.
Since then, Cease had given up four earned runs in 13 starts for a 0.59 ERA. The American League Pitcher of the Month in June and July, Cease made his first start of August on Friday against the Rangers, propping up his team after a loss the night before with six innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory.
With 13 consecutive starts of one or fewer earned runs allowed, Cease broke a tie with Jacob deGrom (2021) for the longest such streak since earned runs became official in 1913.
“It’s definitely the best I’ve ever pitched in my life,” Cease said. “I’m happy to be giving us a chance and keep it going.”
The victory for the Sox (54-52) evened the four-game series at one apiece, lifted them into a second-place tie with the Guardians in the AL Central and kept them within two games of the first-place Twins.
“The biggest thing is just, we’ve got to bring a little bit more of our A game more consistently,” Cease said this week. “We’ve had a lot of days where one side of the ball will click and the other won’t. Really, everyone, we’ve just got to focus, step up and have some grit and show how much we want it.”
Cease (12-4), somehow snubbed for the All-Star Game, lowered his ERA to 1.98 and extended his winning streak to five. He had to adjust early against the Rangers when his command eluded him during a first inning that included two walks and an RBI single by Adolis Garcia. After he walked Marcus Semien with two out and a runner on in the second, Cease retired the next 13 batters and called it a night.
“It was something mechanical, get down the mound a little better kind of cue,” Cease said.
At 91 pitches, Cease was pulled after six innings. He walked three, struck out five and gave up two hits, both singles.
“We saw a different side of Dylan Cease,” manager Tony La Russa said. “The man continues to impress and amaze. Getting that deep into a game after having those issues.”
The Sox tied the game on Seby Zavala’s sacrifice fly to medium-deep center against Rangers starter Glenn Otto and went ahead on Eloy Jimenez’s homer to left center in the fourth.
The Sox had chances to widen the margin when slumping Yasmani Grandal led off the fifth with a double and Luis Robert led off the sixth with a single. But Grandal stayed put as Josh Harrison flied out, Zavala struck out and Tim Anderson — halting a streak of five consecutive strikeouts — flied to center. In the sixth, Robert got to second with two outs when Andrew Vaughn got hit by a pitch but Yoan Moncada struck out.
The Sox were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through the first eight innings.
Jimenez singled in the eighth, giving him five multihit games in his last seven. His nine-game hitting streak was snapped in the Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Thursday, but he is 18-for-41 (.439) with four homers in his last 11 games.
Joe Kelly pitched a hitless seventh, notching his 11th consecutive scoreless appearance. Kendall Graveman escaped his own bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Liam Hendriks pitched a perfect ninth for his 100th career save.
“Definitely a big win,” Cease said. “That’s why we come every day.
“It’s probably going to be a battle with three good teams competing [in the division]. But truthfully I always try to keep a ‘next day’ mindset.”