White Sox 7, Royals 1: Something old, something new

Tonight, the 2020 White Sox offense showed up to provide a lead, the 2021 White Sox offense padded the scoreboard, and the best version of Dylan Cease made all the extra insurance unnecessary.

The Sox didn’t hit Kris Bubic often, but they made their successes count. Two of the three hits left the yard, which was already plenty for a Cease who threw six scoreless innings. The Sox tacked on four runs in the seventh by taking their walks, but the only thing the late crooked number changed was the quality of reliever required.

Cease had his most electric stuff, and was largely able to harness it. He allowed just a bloop single and two walks over the first five innings, but the combination of deep counts from foul balls, strikeouts and occasional wobbles of control ran his pitch count past 90 through five innings.

Tony La Russa sent him out for the sixth with Garrett Crochet ready in case backup was required, but Cease instead put an authoritative stamp on his night. He struck out the side on 12 pitches, only one of which was a fastball. He induced five whiffs over the course of nine sliders and two curves, and he called it a night with 11 strikeouts over a reasonable 103 pitches.

Crochet eventually pitched, but it was after the White Sox spread it on in the seventh. Kyle Zimmer replaced Bubic and walked Yoán Moncada, Andrew Vaughn and Leury García, and none of those Sox needed to take the bat off his shoulder over the course of the 15 pitches. Mike Matheny pulled him for Richard Lovelady, who proceeded to walk Seby Zavala on five pitches to make it a 4-1 game.

Tim Anderson dropped a single to center for another run, and while César Hernández bounced into a fielder’s choice at home, José Abreu followed Anderson’s lead with another single to center that scored two thanks to a good read by Anderson. (I initially called Abreu’s single “soft” because it hung in the air and required such a baserunning decision, but it was 99.5 mph.)

Crochet entered afterward, and both he and Ryan Tepera threw scoreless innings to get the game across the finish line with no further incidents.

The game wasn’t devoid of tension, but the White Sox operated from an advantage since the second inning, when Andrew Vaughn spanked a hanging changeup well into the left field bleachers for a two-out solo shot and the game’s first run.

An inning later, Bubic walked Zavala to start the inning, and Anderson punished the KC lefty for slipping on the No. 9 hitter by driving a 2-2 changeup over the wall in right for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead.

Bubic closed out his night by retiring 11 of the last 12 he faced, but his offense couldn’t rescue him. Cease only faced one real threat, when the Royals posted runners on the corners with one out in the third after an Edward Olivares leadoff single, stolen base, and a dropped third strike by Zavala that allowed Whit Merrifield to reach.

Cease then threw an 0-1 curve to Carlos Santana, who pounded a one-hopper at Abreu. Abreu made a quick, strong throw home to nail Olivares, and Cease survived the first of a few deep flyouts to end the threat.

After Cease left the game, Michael Kopech picked up where he left off by hanging a 1-2 slider to Hunter Dozier, whose drive to center field cleared the glove of a leaping Adam Engel, yet didn’t leave the yard. It caromed back into play, and Dozier had a triple by the time the ball was returned to the infield. Ryan O’Hearn scored him with a fly to center to narrow the White Sox’s lead to 3-1, but Kopech came back with a strikeout and a routine flyout to end his night better than he started it.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox tallied more walks (seven) than hits (five), while Sox pitchers limited the Royals to five baserunners against 14 strikeouts.

*Eloy Jiménez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his return to the lineup at DH.

*Andrew Benintendi injured his shoulder sliding into second on a steal that was otherwise successful and left the game immediately. He’s day-to-day, at least right now.

*Cleveland lost, so the White Sox restored a season-high 9½-game lead.

*Note: I’m aware comments look messed up, but I’m leaving them that way so that it can be troubleshot in the morning, since it’s easier to try to solve a stable problem than an intermittent issue.

Record: 63-44 | Box score | Statcast

Author

  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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texag10

Man, poor Jose. He hits a 99.5 mph RBI single and the post game recap calls it “soft”. Great game all around though. Cease has definitely made a giant jump this year and shut me up regarding his ability to consistently get guys out. Also good to see Tepera settle down and get guys out without issue.

roke1960

When your 5th and 6th relievers are Crochet and Tepera, you really have a loaded bullpen!!

joewho112

I see that Dallas is starting tomorrow which I believe is normal rest since he went on Saturday. Why are they keeping him on regular rest but resting everyone else? Do they think he is basically a lost cause so give extra extra rest to the other pitchers?

Greg Nix

Fegan just wrote about this.

He made just three Cactus League starts this spring, with his bullpens and live batting practices ramping up at a slower schedule, both with a purpose in mind and a potential sacrifice acknowledged.

“The thought process in the offseason was I haven’t had a full season in two years,” Keuchel said. “You’re not supposed to overhand throw 100 pitches a game, that’s just not good for you. So to be able to do that 35-40 starts, I knew I was gonna have to say, ‘Hey, do I want to give up pitch-making ability for the first month or so in order to make starts and be that longevity guy? And I did.”

This weekend, the White Sox are banking on that plan. Carlos Rodón has not eclipsed 100 innings since 2018 and has seen a velocity dip in his last two outings. Dylan Cease is set to eviscerate his professional career-high in innings, and Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn have been full bore since the beginning of spring training, and the team wants to avoid them seeing a dropoff in performance amid an unprecedented season. The Sox will use a spot starter on Sunday and the Monday off day to give all of them extended rest before their next outings. That is, everyone but Keuchel, who will make the plan work by leapfrogging Rodón and Lynn and pitching Thursday on regular rest.

https://theathletic.com/2744326/2021/08/01/dallas-keuchel-planned-on-a-strong-finish-and-the-white-sox-need-it-from-him-im-playing-catch-up/

joewho112

Interesting. Good planning, I guess. Also I’m sure he knows he’s unlikely to pitch in the postseason so his season is going to be shorter on both ends.

calcetinesblancos

That version of Cease last night looked like he could be a game 1 playoff starter. I think he’s going to be a beast in 2022.