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The White Sox are expected to be without Liam Hendriks for at least three weeks, and they crossed the first game off the calendar with little issue.
Even though Dylan Cease is still seeking the sharpest version of himself, he still posed too tall a test for the Tigers. He allowed his only run of the game on an errant pickoff throw in the first inning before muscling his way through five innings, which was good enough to improve to 10-0 lifetime against Detroit.
Cease’s inefficiency meant the game hinged on Jimmy Lambert, and for the second consecutive appearance, he threw at least two innings of zeroes. He set the tone for the bullpen by throwing a scoreless sixth and a scoreless seventh, and Joe Kelly and Reynaldo López made similarly easy work of the eighth and ninth.
Kelly had the most impressive inning of the bunch, striking out two of the three Tigers he faced while only using 11 pitches in his first game back from the IL. Lambert and López weren’t far bheind. They each allowed one two-out hit apiece, neither of which led to damage.
Meanwhile, the offense immediately made up for Cease’s ill-fated attempt to catch Harold Castro off second, scoring a pair of runs all after two outs in the top of th esecond. Danny Mendick, AJ Pollock, Andrew Vaughn and Luis Robert strung together singles to give the Sox a 2-1 lead, and they never looked back.
Both teams got strong performances from the top of the order. The top two hitters in each lineup combined to go 6-for-9.
The Sox just had a little more behind it. Robert went 2-for-4 from the third spot, with both hits RBI singles, and he scored on a Leury García sac fly in the sixth inning. Yoán Moncada also showed a welcome sign of life with an RBI double into the right-field corner.
On the other side, Willi Castro, Austin Meadows, Javier Báez and Robbie Grossman combined to go 1-for-15, with Meadows notching the lone single and walk. The Tigers also struck out 14 times to the White Sox’s four, contributing to their 0-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position, so at least for one night, the Sox felt like they always had a strong handle on the outcome.
*Vaughn went 4-for-4, but I’d expect one of those hits to turn into an error, as Harold Castro played a bouncer poorly.
*Cease’s ERA dropped to 2.91, but the unearned run he allowed was his 10th this year. It looks like only Tampa Bay’s Josh Fleming has allowed that many.
*Pollock went 2-for-5 with a double, but he was about a foot of wall and a Robbie Grossman web gem from going 3-for-5 with a homer and a double. One drive hit the yellow stripe on the left field wall, and Grossman flagged down a liner to the left-center gap with the tip of his glove.