Give the White Sox credit: They didn’t harm Dylan Cease’s Cy Young chances.
Then stop giving the White Sox credit.
Cease dodged traffic over six scoreless innings to keep Justin Verlander honest, and the White Sox led 1-0 behind a Yoán Moncada homer by the time his afternoon was over.
Then the White Sox packed it in. Reynaldo López lost the lead in the seventh with the first two batters going single-double, and while Victor Reyes did him a favor of getting caught between second and third after his RBI double to clear the bases, Kendall Graveman received no such help. He gave up four singles over the course of five batters to make it a 3-1 game, then capped off his appearance with the gift of Wild Pitch Offense that made the final score what it is.
Perhaps Graveman sensed the poetry of the moment, for he’s the one who officially buried the White Sox’s AL Central chances. The Guardians would’ve won the division today regardless, because the magic number was 1 and they just beat the Rangers 10-4, but the White Sox made it official before they had the chance to do it themselves.
Instead of Cleveland crumbling the way Elvis Andrus hoped, it was the White Sox who went winless during their six-game homestand. They’re now below .500, which means we’re back to focusing on draft position. They’d be picking 16th round now, but if they lose out, they could pick as high as 12th.
What’s incredible is that the White Sox threw a quality start in all six games, so it all comes back to the offense. Yoán Moncada hit his 12th homer of the year for the game’s first run in the fourth inning, the start of a three-batter sequence that signaled more in store. AJ Pollock followed with a single (in his 500th plate appearance, adding $1 million to his player option), bringing Andrew Vaughn to the plate.
Vaughn tried to follow Moncada’s way out of the park, but his drive to left-center died in the glove of Riley Greene, who brought the ball back from over the fence with an incredible leaping grab that saved Tyler Alexander two runs. Gavin Sheets tried to regain momentum with a single, but Yasmani Grandal and Seby Zavala both popped out.
The White Sox had three hits in the fourth inning, and three hits in the other eight innings combined. All of them were singles, and one was Josh Harrison with two outs in the ninth.
Cease got the no-decision, so he has to settle for lowering his ERA to 2.06 after six shutout innings. It again wasn’t his best work, as he gave up eight baserunners (two doubles,. two singles, three walks, one HBP) over six innings.
The Tigers had chances to get to him late. They bunted runners to second and third in the fifth inning, but Cease escaped unscathed with a strikeout and a popout around a bases-loading walk. In the sixth, Cease loaded the bases with two singles and the aforementioned HBP, but Jonathan Schoop hit a weak grounder to third, and Moncada made a tremendous throw around Harold Castro to start a 5-2-3 double play. Castro knew the stakes and effectively swerved toward the mound to cut down Moncada’s angle, and while Moncada could’ve drilled him between the numbers to get an interference out, Seby Zavala gave him an effective target toward first base for an effective throw, and Zavala completed the turn.
Then it all went to hell. It was Fan Appreciation Day, after all, and the White Sox chose honesty.
*Javier Báez went 0-for-5 with seven stranded, if that does anything for you.
*Vaughn is in a 3-for-29 slump and is hitting juist .249/.299/.411 since the All-Star break, so he could’ve really used that homer.