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Cease, Sox shut out Angels, 3-0

Best Dylan since “Blowin’ in the Wind”

Los Angeles Angels v Chicago White Sox
Maybe it was the mustache, maybe the jersey, but, whatever, it worked for Dylan Cease today!
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Dylan Cease certainly answered questions so everyone knew, not just The Shadow.

Yes, he can dominate a good team, as he demonstrated for the second time this season, this time on one hit in seven innings, with 11 strikeouts, including three of Mike Trout (OK, a couple, including one of Trout, were on called strikes barely in the same zip code, but you’re quibbling). It was quite possibly Cease’s best game ever, even with Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon out of the lineup.

Cease also showed he can keep concentrating after something doesn’t go his way, recovering after bouncing a slider off the toe of Tyler Wade to open the sixth to get three fly ball outs. With his fastball hitting 98 mph when needed and the slider biting late, he threw 64 of 93 pitches for strikes, including 16 of 23 first pitches.

That 93 pitches may be the most important number in the long haul. Cease was the very worst starting pitcher in MLB in pitches per inning last year, so averaging just more than 13 per frame so far this year is a huge breakthrough. Issuing no walks had a lot to to do with that.

Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks finished off the shutout, Graveman adding one K and Hendriks striking out the side in the ninth, including the fourth big whiff for Trout. That again is an important sign, because Hendriks is a terrible April pitcher — this year being no exception — but apparently noticed the calendar has flipped over a page.

As for the offense, it looked early like it might continue Sunday’s big ninth inning. Tim Anderson opened the first with a trademark single to right, after which Luis Robert laced one to left, and both got an extra base when Jo Adell kicked the ball around for a while. An AJ Pollock grounder drove Tim in and, after walks to José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal, a Jake Burger sac fly plated Luis — the first two runs off Angels starter Patrick Sandoval this season (and that’s his own fault for using his left arm to face the White Sox).

But what looked like it might be a rout turned into a pitchers’ duel, with no more scoring until the sixth. Abreu opened that inning with a single through the hole, and, after two outs, Adam Engel came up.

That was Adell kicking the ball around again as José scored on the double — he plays left field like your drunk uncle does at the annual family Fourth of July picnic game, and has just as good an arm. With the great Sox pitching, though, Adell’s fútbol didn’t matter.

The second shutout in three days got the White Sox a split of the series and a split of May so far, and pushed the season record to 9-13. Next up is the arduous trek up the Red Line to the Addison stop for two games against That Other Team in Town. With Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito slated to pitch, the Sox will be decided favorites on both nights.