Dylan Cease pitched his best major league game this afternoon, but unless your best is holding the other team scoreless, it’s not good enough. Meanwhile, New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler is no Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom, but what the heck, he was pitching against the Chicago White Sox, so it’s not like he faced a challenge in the 4-0 whitewash.
Cease earned a 53 game score, his first time ever better than 50 with the White Sox. The rookie went seven, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks, while striking out six, technically earning a quality start. He was still slightly less than 60% on strikes, which is low, but didn’t fall behind as often as in earlier games, and he got 11 swinging strikes on 104 pitches, an increase of 7% over his last two starts. Dylan’s fastball averaged over 96 mph for the day, so no velocity problems.
Cease’s second-inning problems didn’t reappear, which is a breakthrough, though Robinson Canó did line a 105.8 mph screamer into the left-center seats. Cease had a lot of defensive help this time out, with a couple of double plays and a very nice Leury García-to-Ryan Goins throw to nail J.D Davis trying to get to third on an Amed Rosario single in the fifth.
The bottom of the fifth provided the most exciting visual of the day, when Eloy Jimenez hit a long foul to right and Jeff McNeil pursued:
McNeil should copyright his use of the new netting as a trampoline, because it’s bound to become a popular pastime once more teams stretch screens out to the foul poles.
Things fell apart for the White Sox in the sixth, which started with a walk and a bloop single that Tim Anderson probably should have caught. Cease looked to be getting out of trouble with a couple of ground outs, but then Canó — who had been in a major slump — lashed a 109.7 mph RBI double, and Wilson Ramos followed with a two-run single to right, the second run scoring when Garcia’s throw short-hopped Welington Castillo. Castillo got charged with a very tough error, so the last run was unearned, giving Cease the iffy quality start.
All that made the score 4-0, though 1-0 would have been quite enough, given the state of the Sox offense. That “offense,” perhaps better said, has now scored 55 runs in 20 games since the Al-Star break, during which they’ve had 2-8 road and home stands for a 4-16 total. The South Siders never threatened in the least, avoiding their big problems with runners in scoring position by never getting a runner into scoring position.
It was bad enough to get shut out by Wheeler, who can be very good. But the Sox also flailed through two innings against the dregs of the Mets bullpen, Luis Avilán and Jeurys Familia.
The four Sox hits were all singles, and well spread out at that. They did hold their strikeouts to single figures, which is unusual lately, with A.J. Reed managing four of the eight K’s. That earned Reed a postgame trip to Charlotte, so Rick Hahn and Ricky Renteria will have to find another .136 hitter to entrench in the fourth spot this weekend.
The 2-8 homestand is mercifully over, and the White Sox head to Philadelphia for three against the Phillies, with Joe Resis anchoring Friday’s coverage for SSS.
After that should — note, it’s only should these days — come a respite, with four games in Detroit, where the already-horrendous Tigers just traded away Nick Castallanos, leaving them with essentially no offense. Could be some extra-inning scoreless ties.