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Furious finish: White Sox nip Rangers, 5-4

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Abreu, Zavala club South Siders to lead; Cease slams the door in 9th

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
Timely Tap: Zavala’s eighth-inning single capped a four-run rally for the eventual win.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Sure, it’s silly to get too hyped about a spring training game in February.

But if there was any question whether Ricky’s Boys would up and quit sometime in the 2018 season, let this be Exhibit A warning against that expectation.

With one out in the eighth, Charlie Tilson legged out a base hit on a grounder to third, then snagged second as José Rondón grounded out. With an 0-1 count, Jose Abreu sent a sky-high fly to left, where it dropped just past the fence for a two-run dinger, pulling the White Sox to within 4-3.

Ricky’s Boys, or at least some of Ricky’s Distant Cousins, were just getting started. Daniel Palka ripped a shot through first baseman Yanio Perez for an error. Matt Skole greeted new Rangers pitcher Adrian Sampson with a double to right, pushing Palka to third.

Sampson nibbled at Jake Elmore before walking him, bringing Seby Zavala to the plate. The 24-year-old up-and-comer rapped a single to left, scoring Palka and Skole. Skole’s extra giddyup home with the lead run proved crucial, as the throw from Jose Cardona was cut off and Elmore was thrown out at third, just a fraction after Skole touched home.

The late drama was enhanced further by a terrific 1 13 innings from blue chip fireballer Dylan Cease. In this, his first spring outing, Cease was dominant, blowing heat past Texas hitters and challenging them with a bendy-straw curve.

With a game apiece in the books, Cease seems just a shade behind Michael Kopech in terms of intimidation and raw stuff.

Lucas Giolito was pleased with his first start of the spring, despite several Rangers reaching base (two hits, two walks). The six-foot-six slinger wasn’t helped a smidge by some shaky outfield and infield defense.

Like Kopech a couple of days ago, Giolito blew up the gun (hitting 95 mph) but was more pleased with the reactions he was getting from his breaking stuff.

“I was commanding it pretty well,” Giolito said after his outing. “Overall, the curveball feel is a lot better than it was last year. I feel like I can drop it in for a strike a little more comfortably.”

White Sox pitching got better as the game went along. Rob Scahill again impressed despite being touched for his first run of the spring, recording two strikeouts. Ian Clarkin pitched an almost-perfect 1 13, surrendering just a single hit.

On the offensive side, the White Sox were making solid contact throughout the game but were victimized by some serious leather thrown by the Rangers. In the first six innings, only three balls fell for hits, but a one-run rally in the 7th coupled with the comeback completed in the 8th the team landed the Sox at double-figure hits (10) once again. Casey Gillaspie, Avisail Garcia and Zavala each had two hits to lead the offensive assault late.

The White Sox stand sixth in the majors in hitting so far this spring, with a team average of .292.

That juggernaut travels to Goodyear Ballpark tomorrow to take on the 1-5 Cincinnati Reds. Reynaldo Lopez gets his first start of the spring.