White Sox 5, Tigers 2: Dylan Cease extends Detroit dominance

It’s a new season, but Dylan Cease is writing the same old story against the Detroit Tigers. His five innings of one-run ball put the White Sox on course for their first win of the season, and now he’s 9-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 career starts against the Tigers.

Warts and all, this game went how Opening Day should’ve gone. The White Sox once again staked an early lead before struggling to capitalize on good opportunities later, and the bullpen once again wobbled (with an assist from the defense). Still, the Sox should have enough talent on hand to make those early win-expectancy figures hold up, and this one did.

The similarities:

  • Eloy Jiménez delivered a first-inning single up the middle to put the White Sox on the board, this time scoring two runs.
  • Another White Sox left the game earlier than expected with muscle tightness, as AJ Pollock tweaked a hamstring rounding first base semi-aggressively.
  • Another break on the basepaths allowed the White Sox bullpen to limit damage early, this time when Javier Báez broke for home on a not-that-wild pitch with nobody out.
  • The Sox stranded a leadoff Josh Harrison triple, and also failed to tack on a run with runners on second and third with one out in the seventh.
  • Bennett Sousa had the easiest time of anybody, while Aaron Bummer still couldn’t get ground balls.

The differences:

  • Cease went a strong five instead of Lucas Giolito’s injury-shortened four.
  • Yasmani Grandal delivered a later dose of scoring in emphatic fashion, blasting a no-doubt two-run shot that ended Casey Mize’s day and gave the Sox a 4-0 lead.
  • When Detroit sneaked back in the game by grinding out two runs off Reynaldo López in the bottom of the sixth, the Sox responded with a manufactured run to stiff-arm the charge.
  • Aaron Bummer found his slider before it was too late.

With Liam Hendriks throwing 30-plus pitches during the course of two blown leads on Friday, Bummer was tasked with closing out the three-run lead. He gave up a pair of singles that still kept his ground-ball rate frozen at 0.0 percent, but he found the ears on his slider to escape bad counts with three consecutive strikeouts for the save.

The bullpen’s effort preserved a great 2022 debut for Cease, whose own slider did the heavy lifting. He threw more sliders (36) than any other pitch (34 fastballs), only breaking out his changeup for a different look the third time through. His control only abandoned him during the fourth inning, but Robbie Grossman lined out to José Abreu to strand two walks.

(Abreu also defused another potential rally with one of his trademarked 3-6 double plays, erasing a López walk that started the seventh.)

Thanks to that work, the White Sox only absorbed damage in the sixth inning. An Austin Meadows leadoff single chased Cease, and he came around to score on a Báez single and a Jeimer Candelario double. Báez had to hold at third thanks to a friendly bounce off the side wall, which turned out to matter when Báez broke for home on a high fastball that popped out of Grandal’s mitt. Grandal recovered quickly, and López covered quickly to slap the tag on Báez before the usually adept baserunner could touch home.

That gave López some footing, and while he walked Miguel Cabrera, he almost got out of the inning when Jonathan Schoop hit a grounder to Leury García’s left. García didn’t field it cleanly, and he compounded the mistake by locking up on a throw to second which would’ve had Cabrera out by plenty. Both runners were safe, the Tigers narrowed the gap to 4-2 with still just one out, and the dangerous Eric Haase loomed.

Fortunately, the Sox had Haase’s number today. López got him to ground into a 6-4-3 double play that García successfully started, and when Haase came to the plate as the tying run in the ninth, Bummer fanned him with a great slider.

The Sox answered that run when Harrison doubled, moved to third on a Jake Burger sac bunt, then scored when Andrew Vaughn lined a single through the drawn-in right side. Vaughn replaced Pollock in right field, then was replaced by Adam Engel on the basepaths.

Bullet points:

*Engel was thrown out at home on a contact play, making the pinch-running moot.

*Mize dropped to 0-4 against the White Sox, and the Tigers have lost all six of his starts.

*Sousa has recorded seven outs while facing six batters during his young career, and he ended his day with his first MLB strikeout.

*The White Sox lineup didn’t draw a walk, but they limited the strikeouts to five over nine innings, whereas the Sox pitching staff offered plenty of both (five walks, 12 K’s).

Record: 1-1 | Box score | Statcast

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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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BenwithVen

Really loving Vaughn’s start to the season. He’s had excellent ABs so far.

As Cirensica

If he starts hitting RH pitchers, then the White Sox will struck gold. Sometimes he does, sometimes he looked hapless like that first at bat vs Mize.

asinwreck

Bennett “The Invincible Eagle” Sousa needs this on the GRF PA when he comes into home games.

LuBob DuRob

El Capitan would be Hawk-approved, but yes, he should have some unique entrance music.

WestEddy

too bad they made that trade for Kimbrel. All the Burger & Fry jokers could marvel at a Sousa Madrigal teaming.

a-t

How the first game *should* have gone, if Hendriks hadn’t come out so flat. Bennett Sousa is not (yet) hitting 96-97 velo band he apparently was in Arizona but still quite effective so far. Though with him and Bummer both having throwing back to back, and a lot of lefties in this Detroit lineup, I would bet a reasonably large sum on long-suffering Tanner Banks making his debut tomorrow.

jhomeslice

Their first home series against the Mariners will be interesting, with VV, Keuchel, and presumably Lopez slated to go.

It’s going to be a very tough 2-3 weeks with 3/5 of their rotation being those guys. A .500 record by the end of April would be pretty decent actually. Hope Kopech is good tomorrow, they really need him to start the season throwing well.

metasox

Last yr’s big 5 provided 145 starts. Plus 4 for Kopech. Compared to that, I am prepared for the rotation to be a grind all season.

jhomeslice

Rodon with 5 innings, 1 run, 12 K’s. Not likely to last, but obviously the offseason must have done him some good. A shame that the light 2nd half and two weeks off before the playoffs didn’t allow him to pitch like that against the Astros.

BenwithVen

My Tigers friend told me that their booth was enamored with Cease and Kirk Gibson was comparing him to Blyleven.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

My favorite Chris Berman nickname: Bert “Be Home” Blyleven.

Right Size Wrong Shape

My favorite Chris Berman nickname: ___________________.