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Swung 3-O’s

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Dylan Cease twirled a gem, and the White Sox handled the Orioles in the opener of a four-game set, 5-1

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox
Rules, rewritten: Yermín Mercedes
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox offense got off to a sluggish start against very-hittable Baltimore pitching, but broke through in the seventh to push the score to the eventual final, 5-1. Yermín Mercedes, José Abreu and Dylan Cease all starred.


Early trouble, vintage Cease

Prior to his what I don’t think would be a stretch to call “breakout” start to 2021, Dylan Cease’s young career consisted of Houdini-like escapism out of baseball-related jams. He did just that in the top of the first after giving up a leadoff single to Cedric Mullins and drilling Trey Mancini in the elbow with a fastball. With two on and nobody out, Cease got two outs via the infield pop, and struck out Freddy Galvis (huh, he’s on the Orioles now?) to keep the slate clean to open the game.

Cease ended up turning in a sparkling game overall going six innings, giving up one run and striking out 10.

Yaz in the 2-Spot

I doubt Tony La Russa reads Twitter, because if he did ... well, yeah he should stay off Twitter. But if he did, he’d see several Sox fans clamoring for him to pencil in Yasmani Grandal in the 2-spot in the batting order. Grandal and his .391 OBP made his 2021 debut in the 2-hole and singled in his first at-bat of the evening.

Yermín ... Back?

After more than a week of looking like a mere mortal, and not a baseball-hitting god, Yermín Mercedes took a 3-0 (yeah you heard that right) pitch and crushed it 116 mph into the left-field bleachers to give the Sox a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. It was Mercedes’ first home run since the last home run he hit on a 3-0 count — against Twins utility man Willians Astudillo earlier in the month. Here at South Side Sox, we fully endorse swinging on 3-0, no matter the score or situation.

Galvis, yep Freddy Galvis

After stranding two runners in the first, Freddy Galvis (yes, still didn’t know he was an Oriole) tied the game with a one-out solo shot in the fourth.

Stranded

Danny Mendick led off the bottom the the fifth with a line-drive single, and Nick Madrigal followed with a four-pitch walk. It looked like a promising way to regain the lead, until Grandal hit a hard grounder, but a grounder nonetheless for a double play. Yoán Moncada followed that up with a hard-hit at ’em ball to left for the final out of the fifth.

The Orioles played copycat in the top half of the sixth when Cease allowed the first two batters to reach base before retiring the next three Birds to keep the game tied at two.

Billy the Hitter!

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Billy Hamilton came up to bat with runners on first and second. It seemed like a perfect spot to bring up a pinch-hitter for the speedy outfielder not known for his bat-to-ball skills, but all season long Tim Anderson has put the belief in Hamilton that he’s more than a runner, but a hitter too. Hamilton came through with a clutch RBI single right back through the middle to put the Sox back on top, 2-1.

Insurance

After stranding 10 runners on Wednesday, Mercedes followed José Abreu’s RBI double with a two-run RBI base knock of his own in the bottom of the seventh, extending the Sox lead to 5-1, where it would stay the rest of the way.

Swing and a Miss

White Sox pitching struck out a season-high 16 Orioles in Thursday night’s game.

What’s next?

The series continues Friday night, with Dallas Keuchel going for the Sox and Matt Harvey, wait, let me look at that again ... THAT Matt Harvey? Yes, that Matt Harvey going for the O’s While I try to comprehend Harvey’s cockroach-like survival to exist in the major leagues, I will wish you all a peaceful and restful good night.