'The guy's a star': Cease continues dominant stretch against Crew

April 17th, 2024

MILWAUKEE -- Padres pitcher was dealing on the mound, again.

The right-hander continued a dominant stretch, pitching six strong innings in a 6-3 win over the Brewers on Tuesday night at American Family Field.

Cease (2-1), who recorded his third consecutive quality start, gave up one run and two hits while striking out seven and walking five.

“His stuff is so nasty,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “Sometimes you get the opportunity to sit back and just appreciate when somebody does something spectacular on the baseball field. Exploding fastball, dirty slider. Clearly, he’s got the stuff. Dylan also has a strong competitive spirit. He goes out and gets after it.”

Making his second career start against the Brewers and first in Milwaukee, Cease tossed a season-high 110 pitches. He’s now thrown 100 or more pitches in three straight starts, after totaling 102 on April 5 against the Giants and an even 100 on April 10 against the Cubs.

“He has some durability,” Shildt said. “Clearly, he’s in good shape. Takes care of himself. We’ve also been really fortunate that we’ve had some extra days baked into it. With that extra rest he should be able to hover around that 100-pitch mark.”

Cease has still only allowed one hit to a right-handed batter this season. Both hits by the Brewers on Tuesday came from left-handed batters – Jake Bauers and Sal Frelick.

“The guy’s a star. He’s an ace. He showed it today,” said outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr., who went 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. “Hopefully, he can keep it that way for the rest of the season.”

The lone run surrendered by Cease came in the first inning when he walked Willy Adames with two outs and Bauers followed with a double into the right-field corner.

Cease now leads the National League in opponent batting average (.130), ranks fifth in ERA (1.99) and is tied for fifth in strikeouts (27).

Cease expressed some frustration with issuing five walks, the lone blemish on an otherwise terrific outing.

“I’m not happy with the inconsistencies with the command, but it’s hard to be unhappy with the results,” he said.

When asked about his durability, the 28-year-old attributed it to his workout habits and age.

“I’ve got youth on my side a little bit,” he said. “The training staff also does a great job in between.”

Cease spent five seasons with the White Sox before landing with the Padres in the offseason and has quickly thrived in his new surroundings.

“The biggest adjustment is getting used to everybody in the clubhouse. Other than that, baseball is baseball,” he said. “They give me the scouting reports and we work on stuff and at the end of the day we all just want to win. We’ve got that common goal so it’s easy to assimilate.”

Cease credited the Padres' defense and could be seen gesturing toward teammates in the field after they made crucial defensive plays.

“When they make a good play, it makes me happy,” he said. “I just want to go up to them and give them a hug.”

The Padres got all of the runs they would need in the first, sending nine batters to the plate. After Xander Bogaerts and Tatis singled, Jurickson Profar put down a sacrifice bunt and reached on an error. Manny Machado hit a shot off the knee of Brewers pitcher Wade Miley to drive in a run, and Ha-Seong Kim followed with a three-run blast off the left-field foul pole for his third home run of the season.

“It was fun,” Shildt said. “Good first inning.”

Machado extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the seventh. It’s his longest hitting streak since an 11-game stretch from Aug. 8-19, 2022.

The Padres, who have won six of their last eight to move to 11-9, handed the Brewers their first series loss of the season.