The White Sox, who have had all kinds of trouble in Cleveland this season, got off to a terrific start. With a runner on first and two outs in the top of the first, José Abreu went to work.
That 404-footer was the 11th home run of yet another great season for the 35-year-old veteran. That was it for the scoring in the first inning, but the White Sox were not done doing damage against Guardians starter Konnor Pilkington. In the second inning, Pilkington missed his target, and Harrison took advantage and extended the lead to three.
Just like that, the White Sox had their second home run of the day, which is the same number of homers they had during their previous nine games at Progressive Field.
In the third, Andrew Vaughn and Luis Robert opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Two batters later, the South Siders managed to pad their lead when Eloy Jiménez hit a grounder to third. The Guardians should have gotten an out on the play, but third baseman Ernie Clement misplayed the chopper, and the ball bounced into left field. Vaughn scored, Clement was charged with an error, and it was 4-0.
Meanwhile, White Sox starter Dylan Cease was phenomenal. Early on, the Guardians did not stand a chance, as they made quite a few unusual swings.
Dylan Cease, Vicious 89mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/QeVlpX7P84— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2022
Dylan Cease, Filthy 88mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/whKNYeHtIO— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 13, 2022
In the first five innings, the closest Cleveland got to scoring on Cease was in the third, when Clement and Steven Kwan hit back-to-back one-out singles with exit velocities below 80 mph. Cease pitched out of that jam with a strikeout and a soft fly out.
The sixth inning got off to an ominous start, as José Ramírez led off with a double down the right field line. Still with no outs, Ramírez advanced to third on a wild pitch, as the Guardians continued to threaten to get on the board. Cease continued making good pitches, though, as he got Josh Naylor to ground out, and he struck Franmil Reyes out. Ramírez was still on third with two outs. Unfortunately, Cease could not get out of the sixth, as Owen Miller and Alex Call drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. That was the end of an excellent start for Cease. His final line was as follows: 5 2⁄3 innings, no runs, five hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. For the moment, Cease leads the majors with 142 strikeouts. He also has a 2.30 ERA and a 2.74 FIP, and there is no valid reason for him not to be an All-Star.
Reynaldo López took over on the mound in a slightly precarious position. Although the White Sox still led by a score of 4-0, he inherited the bases loaded and two outs. López got the job done with a three-pitch strikeout. Facing Luke Maile, the pitch sequence went like this: called strike one with a slider on the outside corner, called strike two with a 98 mph fastball, swinging strike three on an outside slider.
The beginning of the bottom of the eighth was troublesome for reliever Kendall Graveman and the White Sox. Naylor led off with a single, and Reyes followed with a walk. However, Graveman struck out Miller, and despite falling behind 3-1, he also struck Nolan Jones out. Amed Rosario reached on an infield single to put the pressure back on Graveman and the White Sox. On an 0-2 pitch, Clement hit a low line drive to left, and Pollock came in to make a nice catch to escape the jam.
In the top of the ninth, the White Sox added some insurance. Seby Zavala, who made history last July by hitting his first three career home runs in the same game, faced the pitcher (Bryan Shaw) who gave up the last of those homers, and he drew a walk. Then, with two outs, Adam Engel reached on a soft single to extend the inning for Luis Robert. With runners on the corners, Robert launched a pitch deep down the right field line, and it had just enough juice to get over the wall and hit the foul pole. The 322-footer was one of the shortest MLB home runs you will see, but it counted all the same, and it extended the lead to seven.
The White Sox will be back in action tomorrow against the Guardians, when Lucas Giolito and Aaron Civale will be the probable starting pitchers. The first pitch is scheduled to take place at 6:10 p.m. Central, and as usual, NBC Sports Chicago will have the TV coverage, and WMVP 1000 AM will have the radio coverage. We will see you then.