White Sox pitching took a walk on the wild side during a 7-3 loss to the Reds on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, and it resulted in the American League Central leaders’ first series loss since Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 against the Twins at Target Field.
Five White Sox pitchers combined to walk 11, including seven from Dylan Cease in three-plus innings, and hit three batters. Cease actually cruised through the first inning on 10 pitches, eight of which were strikes, but he finished with 80 pitches (37 strikes) after walking the bases loaded during a five-run fourth for Cincinnati.
“I was yanking my fastball today. I think mainly not having a feel for the fastball is what did me in,” said Cease, who slipped to 5-3. “That’s something I’m going to have to look back on and talk with [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] about. The misses were all the same. I just need to figure out what my adjustment is for my innings.”
At the end of that five-run fourth, the Reds still had just one hit via Mike Moustakas’ two-out, two-run single through a vacated spot in the shift to the left of shortstop. Cease and reliever Ross Detwiler combined to walk 10 during that span, marking the first time the White Sox had walked 10-plus through four innings since May 7, 1992, vs. Boston, when Charlie Hough (five) and Wilson Alvarez (seven) combined to walk 12 (STATS). No Major League team had done it since June 2, 2002, when the Expos walked 10 through four at Philadelphia.
“We’re trying to continue to move forward in a positive way,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “This one we want to throw in the garbage, move on, not make too much of it. Guys are still playing, hopefully fighting for this division and into the postseason. We want to keep moving in the right direction.”
This sort of outing could have playoff ramifications for Cease, who would be considered with Dane Dunning for the third starter’s slot in the Wild Card Series and should have a starting spot in the first four for any ensuing playoff series requiring the rotation to go that deep.
Cease leads the AL with 32 walks issued in 53 2/3 innings against 39 strikeouts and has walked 12 in his last 7 2/3 innings over two starts, although his 3.52 ERA over 11 starts would indicate an avoidance of the big hit by the right-hander.
After the setback, Cease expressed confidence in where he’s at and the ability to more consistently attack the zone.
“At the end of the day, just because it happened one outing doesn’t mean it’s going to happen the next one. There’s no need for me to get super down on myself. I just have to put in the work and keep moving forward,” Cease said. “I like where my stuff is at right now. It’s just a matter of using it and executing.
“I’m just going to go in with the same process and not get too up or down over one or two games. I haven’t found a great rhythm with it. But I never feel like I’m really far away from it. I haven’t pitched the best of my abilities by any means, but I’m not going to get too down about it.”
José Abreu finished with two hits and one RBI, raising his average to .335 and giving him a Major League-leading 53 RBIs in 53 games. Garrett Crochet, the team’s top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, threw a scoreless eighth and had seven pitches of a 100 mph or faster, giving him 13 in that category in two innings this weekend.
But shortstop Tim Anderson, in a battle for his second straight AL batting crown, left the game in the seventh after fouling off the first pitch from Lucas Sims. Anderson winced after the swing and then grabbed the back of his right leg. He is day to day with cramping in his right hamstring, with Renteria stating Anderson wanted to stay in the game but his hamstring had a spasm again when he took a practice swing.
“If I’m 100 percent sure he’s good, he’ll be in there,” Renteria said of Anderson. “If there’s any doubt, we’ll make an adjustment.”