White Sox manager Pedro Grifol stands by Dylan Cease — for career-high 113 pitches

But the Sox ace’s two walks and wild pitch in the sixth allowed the Orioles to tie the game, and the Sox ended up losing 8-4.

SHARE White Sox manager Pedro Grifol stands by Dylan Cease — for career-high 113 pitches
White Sox catcher Seby Zavala talks with pitcher Dylan Cease during Sunday’s game.

White Sox catcher Seby Zavala talks with pitcher Dylan Cease during Sunday’s game.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In the 16th game of the regular season, manager Pedro Grifol stuck with ace Dylan Cease to get out of a sixth-inning jam Sunday with his pitch count approaching a career-high total.

While trying to protect a one-run lead, Cease threw a bases-loaded wild pitch on his 109th pitch with two outs and 2022 American League Rookie of the Year Adley Rutschman at the plate and Keynan Middleton warming up.

The Orioles eventually pulled away in the last two innings for an 8-4 victory against the White Sox.

Aaron Bummer allowed two walks that set up a three-run rally in the eighth. The walks increased the Sox’ total to 26 in the three-game series.

There were other shortcomings such as a two-out fielding error by third baseman Jake Burger that set up Cedric Mullins’ two-run triple in the fourth.

And after Gavin Sheets and Burger hit home runs that staked Cease to a 4-0 lead in the first, the offense didn’t make adjustments against rookie Grayson Rodriguez. Eloy Jimenez had four of the Sox’ 13 strikeouts.

But the flash point occurred in the sixth, when Cease walked two before hurling the game-tying wild pitch and finishing with a career-high 113 pitches in his fourth start of the season.

“Dylan is one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Grifol said of the 2022 AL Cy Young Award runner-up. “He had enough pitches to go into that sixth and finish the sixth. I’d do it again tomorrow. Everybody knows the bullpen has been taxed a little bit. Either way, Dylan is one of the best pitchers in the game.”

Cease said he struggled to find his rhythm from the outset. He walked two in the second and worked out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Terrin Vavra.

But Cease said he felt strong enough to start the sixth with 91 pitches.

“I still need to do better with [limiting walks],” Cease said. “I can only speak for me. I think I need to adjust a little bit quicker and just see where my misses are. I don’t feel I did a great job of that. Just in general, walks will really kill you.”

Cease’s fastball velocity also dipped to 94.4 mph, a 1.6 drop from his season average, according to Baseball Savant.

“But I’m not super-worried about it,” Cease said. “We’ll see where it’s at over the next couple of starts. Being cold probably doesn’t help, but it’s something everyone has to deal with.”

Burger hit his third homer in as many games but was disappointed that his error enabled the Orioles to rally.

“For me, it feels like it’s always with Cease on the mound,” Burger said. “It’s kind of disappointing to me that I made that play. But I think last year I probably would have made another mistake in the game. I felt like I bounced back pretty well with that close play at third base [in the sixth].’’

The mission becomes more ominous for the Sox (6-10), who haven’t won any of their five series. They open a 13-game stretch Monday night against the defending National League champion Phillies, followed by the Rays and Blue Jays.

“We definitely haven’t played up to our abilities,” Cease said. “There’s still a lot of season left. We’ve just got to clean it up a little bit.”

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