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While the Guardians cruised to a 4-1 victory in the front end of today’s doubleheader with minimal complications, it was a Cy Young winner in Shane Bieber against a fringe starter in Davis Martin. The result of a humdrum White Sox loss wouldn’t have been as upsetting if it wasn’t set against the backdrop of so many similar losses to inferior pitchers.
But, with the nightcap featuring a Cy Young candidate in Dylan Cease against an emergency starter in Konnor Pilkington — who is also a lefty and a former White Sox draft pick — logic dictated that the White Sox would have their own comfortable victory, and both teams would leave Progressive Field with an inarguable split after the smoke cleared.
Sure enough, the White Sox blasted a pair of homers off Pilkington and three overall while Cease and three White Sox relievers combined to throw an eight-hitter. The White Sox are no worse for the wear, and might actually be better off if the Brewers can hold their rain-delayed lead against the Twins.
Tim Anderson and José Abreu set the tone immediately, as Anderson led off the game with a walk(!) and scored on Abreu’s two-out, two-run shot to right center for a quick 2-0 lead. Josh Harrison scalded a solo shot to left in the second inning, and Ernie Clement’s error on Eloy Jiménez’s grounder put an unearned run on Pilkington’s tab in the third.
Cease, meanwhile, came out with the game plan of slidering the Guardians to death, and it pretty much worked. He struck out nine over 5⅔ innings, with diminishing control being the only regret. He issued all three of his walks over the fifth and sixth innings, including a six-pitch walk to another White Sox draft pick in Alex Call that ended his day one out short of a quality start.
Instead, he brought the tying run to the plate and required the clean-up services of Reynaldo López to maintain a scoreless line, and López struck out Luke Maile on three pitches to quash the threat with ease.
The White Sox only retired the side in order in two innings, as the Guardians pestered the Sox with eight hits and four walks. Seven of those eight hits were singles, and the only hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position was an infield single that loaded the bases with two outs. Kendall Graveman danced out of his own trouble by getting Clement to line out to AJ Pollock, who committed to the catch with a slide that left a huge divot in left field.
Luis Robert, having seen Abreu take the team lead with his 11th homer, retained a share of it with his 11th homer, a high fly that clanked off the base of the foul pole for a three-run shot that put the game out of Liam Hendriks territory.
*Cease, who is still not an All-Star, improved to 8-4 with a 2.45 ERA. He threw sliders for 57 of 106 pitches, and they accounted for all 19 of his swinging strikes.
*Robert reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a walk.
*The White Sox improved to 11-3 when hitting multiple homers in a game this year.