Despite a mountain of hype and the heavy status as This Year’s Rotation Savior, Dylan Cease settled down after a jittery end to his first major league frame, keying a 7-5 win over the Detroit Tigers in the opener of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Cease’s first major league pitch was a 97 mph fastball right down the middle, which JaCoby Jones was kind enough to loft for an easy fly to center. Christin Stewart worked the count to 2-2, then grounded to short, and about that time every Chicago White Sox fan was liking what he or she Cease.
Then the good stuff Ceased. Maybe too much Adrenaline, maybe a drop-off after the relief of getting those first two outs, but suddenly the strike zone was a mystery, even though plate umpire Bill Miller had a zone as wide as the seven Cease (OK, I promise, no more of that). Dylan was fired up enough to hit 100 mph at one point, but two walks, a hit batter and a two-run single by Harold Castro put the Tigers up, 2-0. Another walk loaded the bases again, at which point .182 hitter John Hicks smashed one 382 feet, but luckily to just the right part of the park from the White Sox point of view.
It took 33 pitches to get through that inning, but Cease turned it around. Edging the heater down to 95-97 mph and relying more on breaking stuff, he had a 1-2-3 second with two strikeouts, the first on Jones.
Cease pitched around a couple of singles in the third, got help from a nice Ryan Cordell catch against Hicks in the fourth, which Cease followed with a walk to Jordy Mercer that included one pitch that went clear to the wall — but he recovered with two more Ks on nasty changes.
With two outs In the fifth, Jeimer Candelario got even for being hit on the hand his first time up by knocking one 388 feet, just enough to clear the wall in right center, but Dylan K’ed Castro to end the inning and his virgin outing.
Cease’s day Ceased (it’s not a lie, I had my fingers crossed) with a final line of five innings, four hits, three earned, four walks and six strikeouts, with 61 strikes in 101 pitches. Not great, but perfectly acceptable for a first outing. And he gets a W, because, while you might not have known it from the hype, the Sox had other players on the field as well.
In the spirit of Chicago politics, the Sox got to Detroit pitching early and often. Back-to-back doubles by All-Stars José Abreu and James McCann off Bengals starter Daniel Norris brought in a run on the bottom of the first.
Jon Jay followed with an infield single, but McCann got caught drifting off third in a horrible TOOTBLAN. Rally, killed.
The Sox tied it up in the second on singles by Eloy Jiménez and Ryan Cordell and a Leury García double, but killed their own rally again, this time when Cordell blew through a Nick Capra stop sign at third base and was thrown out at the plate by maybe 50 feet.
OK, that’s an exaggeration: It was more like 45.
The Sox took the lead in the fourth when Eloy was hit by a pitch, Yolmer Sánchez doubled him home and advanced to third on the throw, followed by a Cordell sac fly. After the Candelario dinger cut the White Sox lead to 4-3 in the fifth, the Sox lengthened it again in the sixth. Two walks chased Norris, Sánchez knocked an RBI single, and Cordell executed a nice safety squeeze.
The bottom of the order had a nifty afternoon. Yolmer went 2-for-4 with two runs and two ribbies and Cordell was perfect, with two hits and two RBIs on the SF and sac. The top of the order finished off the scoring in the seventh on a Yoán Moncada single and stolen base and McCann’s second RBI hit of the game.
Meanwhile, the bullpen mostly cruised. Evan Marshall went two perfect innings and Aaron Bummer one. The only blip was when Kelvin Herrera tried to finish things out in the ninth. He walked Niko Goodrum, looked like he was getting out of it with two K’s, but then surrendered an RBI double to — wait for it, now — Gordon Beckham. With the score 7-4 and Sox-killer Nick Castellanos in the hole, Ricky Renteria had to go to closer Alex Colomé, who promptly gave up an RBI double to Stewart to make it 7-5, but got Castellanos to ground to third.
Which led to what should have been Yolmer time:
First major-league win feels. pic.twitter.com/50wz119XGl— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 3, 2019
Note that it was Eloy who did the honors. Could it be a changing of the Gator guard?
The Sox and Tigers are back at it at 7:10 p.m., with Ross Detwiler on the mound for the Sox, opposing Tyler Alexander, who’s making his major league debut, albeit with a whole lot less hype than surrounded this afternoon’s game. TV is NBC Sports Chicago, radio is the old faithful WGN. Ashley Sanders provides our SSS coverage, and you know she’s just itching to break out the sweep sunglasses.