Adam Engel certainly took all that “light hitter” stuff he had to hear last season to heart.
The center fielder stole the White Sox spring home run lead back with two impressive clouts to left-center, alone providing the margin of difference in Chicago’s 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium.
Engel bookended his 2-for-5 night with longballs. His first came on the first pitch of the game from M’s starter Marco Gonzales, while his last was off of reliever Bryan Bonnell in the ninth inning. The speedster now leads the club with four home runs on the spring.
The other story of the game was Dylan Cease extending his scoreless streak and upping his spring record to 2-0. Cease only ceded one hit and one walk against four Ks in three innings. His first-batter punchout of Dee Gordon with a curve was almost unfair, as was his comeback from 3-0 to whiff Jean Segura on three menacing fastballs to end the inning.
For the spring, the dominant righty has logged 6 1⁄3 innings, giving up three hits and two walks while punching out nine batters.
“I felt more comfortable with my fastball command, throwing more two-seamers,” Cease said after his start. “I didn’t mix in a whole lot of off-speed [pitches] today.”
Cease’s main takeaway from his scintillating spring so far? “It’s been a big confidence boost.”
All in all, the pitching was outstanding for the White Sox, facing a first four Mariners (Gordon, Ichiro Suzuki, Segura and Kyle Seager) who are every bit Opening Day starters. Aaron Bummer and Gregory Infante were both touched for earned runs in an inning apiece, but Xavier Cedeño, Danny Farquhar and Ian Clarkin combined to finish the game giving up just two hits and one walk against four Ks in four scoreless innings. Clarkin pitched the final two frames to earn the save.
The Pale Hose had a modest nine hits on the night, but a few cracks beyond Engel’s resounded.
Zack Collins clocked his first home run of the spring, a no-doubter to right in the top of the fourth. And Matt Davidson joined Engel with two hits, the first a sharp double to right field to score Avisail Garcia in the first frame.
The M’s got a scare, and the White Sox a twisted measure of revenge against the baseball gods, when Leury Garcia hit Seattle starter Gonzales with a line drive to his right hand with one out in the top of the second. Gonzales gathered himself enough to make the throw to first base to retire Garcia, but had to leave the game.
The 8-8 White Sox enjoy an off-day on Tuesday, then get back at it against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.