After dealing with the gut punch that was Luis Robert going down with a torn hip flexor for 12-16 weeks, the White Sox marched on to Cincinnati to start a brief two-game series with the Reds. They handed the ball to Dylan Cease, fresh off his best outing in the bigs, and he somehow outdid that performance, and helped his own cause with the bat.
Not only did Cease shut down one of the best offenses in baseball in a bandbox of a ballpark on the road by throwing six shutout innings, allowing only one hit and striking out 11, but he added three hits of his own on offense, his first three hits.
Cease bounced the first pitch he saw to third for an infield hit. His next at-bat, he faked like he was going to bunt, and launched a fastball on the outer half of the plate off the base of the right-field wall for a stand-up double, and he’d later score on a Yoan Moncada base hit. He then added a sharp single through the right side of the infield to finish his night at the plate a perfect 3-for-3.
Cease became only the second pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to have 10+ strikeouts, one or fewer hits allowed and three or more hits at the plate. He joined Catfish Hunter, who performed that feat during his perfect game on May 8, 1968. Cease is also the first White Sox pitcher with 3+ hits since 1972, when Tom Bradley did so against the Orioles..
More importantly, he followed up a strong effort on the mound with another solid effort. And that he did it in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks is even more impressive. He likely could have gone deeper into the game had he not walked three hitters early in the game, but a visit from pitching coach Ethan Katz got him straightened out, and he mowed down Cincinnati hitters with tremendous efficiency the rest of his outing.
The rest of the offense provided plenty of run support, as Jose Abreu hit a solo homer, Tim Anderson had a couple hits and three runs batted in, and Nick Madrigal and Moncada also chipped in with a pair of hits each. Cease actually was the only batter on either team to record three or more hits on the night.
It’s a quick turnaround for both teams as the Sox and Reds play tomorrow at 11:35 a.m. Chicago time. Dallas Keuchel gets the nod against Sonny Gray for Cincinnati.