After HR, Cease forces Rangers' bats to desist

August 24th, 2019

CHICAGO -- has seen this story before during his Major League career, now covering nine starts with the 2019 White Sox.

The prized right-hander encounters one big inning, which elevates his pitch count and his ERA. That happened Friday night during an 8-3 victory for the White Sox over the Rangers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But after allowing Willie Calhoun’s three-run homer during a 32-pitch first inning, Cease bounced back to strike out a career-high nine over six innings. Cease usually serves as his own toughest critic, but he seemed close to thrilled with this particular evening.

“It was A+ tonight; it was really good,” Cease said of his stuff against the Rangers. “That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning.”

Added manager Rick Renteria: “He's got to continue to trust his stuff and continue to command. You get ahead, he has put-away stuff. Some of them, he maybe tries to overthrow a bit. But, as you could see, he started to get a feel as he continued to move through the ballgame.”

Calhoun’s no-doubt drive to right was followed by strikeouts of Nick Solak and Rougned Odor. The first five outs recorded by Cease came via the strikeout, and he now has 50 in 50 innings pitched.

Cease retired 11 straight after Calhoun’s homer before giving up singles to Logan Forsythe and Delino DeShields to open the fifth. But Cease escaped that inning unscathed and continued to put up zeros as the White Sox battled back from that 3-0 deficit against Lance Lynn.

“Anytime you can get out of situations where there's traffic on the bases, it's huge,” Cease said. “Really, I just found a feel. I started letting my body ride down the mound longer, and it got me on track.

“I liked the shape of my offspeed. I was throwing it for strikes. Fastball was commanding pretty well, and I had good velo.”

Statcast had Cease topping out at 98.2 mph, and he recorded 13 swinging strikes. About the only thing missing for Cease was a Players’ Weekend nickname on the back of his jersey, with Cease arriving in the Majors too late to get one. He said a jersey with his chosen nickname might be coming for the last two days but wouldn’t reveal the name until he actually has it.

“We’ll see,” Cease said with a wry smile.

As for those who were on board with the Players’ Weekend festivities, “YOYO” homered for a second straight night, “MAL TIEMPO” moved within one hit of 1,000 for his career and within two RBIs of 100 on the season and “MAN OF STEAL” had a two-run double in the second to get the White Sox going against Lynn. “FORGETTING SARAH,” “BUM” and “THE HORSE closed out the White Sox third straight victory, raising their record to 59-69.

For those missing their Players’ Weekend cheat sheet, those offensive connections belonged to , and , respectively. It was , and , in that order, who combined to throw three hitless innings.

“Some great at-bats again up and down throughout the lineup,” Renteria said. “When you do that, when you pitch, you catch the ball, I mean all the clichés, you get some timely hitting, you give yourself a chance to win a ballgame.”

Just plain “CEASE” earned the win. He would have liked to have thrown one more inning on Friday but hopes to avoid that one big inning in the future.

“I was thinking, ‘That's frustrating, but it's time to lock down now,’” Cease said of his thoughts after the first. “Really just staying with it and battling, no matter what happens.

“Obviously, I've been having those big innings, which can be really frustrating. But as long as I keep fighting, I'm getting later in the game. I'm just happy we won today.”