Not to press the worn-out Cease-and-desist line or anything, but if Dylan Cease could desist from starting badly, the kid should have a future. But those openings innings? Yuk.
This time around it was only two innings of wildness in and out of the zone, but that was enough to Cease talk of a good game (okay, enough of that), one that would end in a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dylan got through the first inning on 21 pitches, with some help from a strike zone roughly the size of Brazil, which existed for both teams early. But when Cease tried to rely on a zone that stretched from Porto Alegre to São Luis in the second inning, he paid the price.
The bottom of the second went walk, Avi García single, walk, and, on a 3-2 count, a slider to Travis d’Arnaud that caught too much of the plate:
Some 420 feet later, the Rays were up 4-0, and that was all they needed, as Cy Young holder Blake Snell settled down after his own opening control problems and shut the Sox down.
LIkewise, Cease recovered masterfully after the grand slam. He gave up a ground-rule double to Austin Meadows three batters later, but then retired eight in a row, and made it through the fifth only giving up one walk. Dylan threw just 61 of 99 pitches for strikes, and 65 total pitches in the first two innings. His line of five innings, three hits, four earned, four walks and four Ks won’t impress anyone, but he did look good late and kept his fastball around the 97 mph mark. He’s also had just three major league starts. Still, Cease has now given up 11 earned runs in 16 innings, for an ERA of 6.19.
Josh Osich kept the game in reach with his best performance of the season, going 2 2⁄3 with no hits, one walk and 3 Ks. Jimmy Cordero made his first Sox appearance and got Tommy Pham to ground out.
As for the White Sox offense, blowing a huge opportunity in the first proved fatal. Leury García lashed a liner to left that Ji-Man Choi misplayed, but because Leury somehow managed to miss first base and had to go back, it was a pinball single. Leury made up for it by stealing second, as Snell was unable to find the plate, or even the area code. Yoán Moncada walked, and Leury and Moncada pulled off a double steal. With ducks on the pond, José Abreu struck out on a ball in the dirt — and there would be a lot of those K’s by the Sox to come.
With James McCann at the plate, Snell threw what would have been a wild pitch, but Leury was tagged out at home by Snell on a throw from d’Arnaud. McCann struck out and that was that — runners on second and third, no outs, and nary a run doth score.
After that? Fuggedaboutit, as long was Snell was in.
That was only through six though, and the Sox got to attack the weakened Ray pen in the latter third of the game. A Ryan Goins walk from Andrew Kitteridge brought Yolmer Sánchez to the plate:
Yolmer’s triple brought up Adam Engel, who has hit the ball well since his latest call-up. This time, Engel used speed and luck:
Unfortunately, that was it. Ryan Cordell struck out and Leury grounded out to put away any threat.
Back in the game with two innings to go, Moncada, Abreu, and McCann struck out in the eighth, and the only well-hit ball in the ninth was a Welington Castillo 362-foot fly to the warning track in right.
The strikeouts and walks told the tale for the game. The Rays drew five walks, two of which scored, and struck out seven times. The Sox did manage to walk three times, one scoring, but K’ed 14 times. Yep, 14.
Even in a series where they took two out of three (one of the wins a laugher), the White Sox walked only six times and struck out (spoiler alert: It’ll make you cry) 40 times. No team that does that is remotely close to becoming good.
The 2-8 road trip is mercifully over, and it’s home to face the very unmighty Miami Marlins. It should be Iván Nova vs. Trevor Richards in the opener, 7:10 CDT Monday night.