The Chicago White Sox kicked off the first of a two-game set with the Cincinnati Reds last night. The Sox came into this game at 15-12 and winners of seven of their last ten.
While this team and its fan should be feeling great, a cloud seemed to be hanging low. Just one day before, the White Sox announced that center-fielder Luis Robert would miss 12-16 weeks with a grade 3 hip flexor.
The Reds on the other hand, who were 13-14 leading into this game, have been on a skid since mid-April. The team had won just four of their last ten games and sat fourth in the NL Central standings.
It’s safe to say both of these teams needed this one.
Dylan Cease took the ball for the White Sox. The 25-year-old right-hander was coming off the best outing of his career, a seven-inning complete game shutout of the Tigers where he fanned nine batters.
Cease has seemingly found his stride in 2021, coming into this game with a 2.96 ERA over 24.1 innings pitched for the White Sox.
For the Reds, former Colorado Rocky Jeff Hoffman was on the mound to face the White Sox for the first time in his six-year career.
Hoffman is having a nice resurgence after a year in which he struggled mightily in Colorado. The 28-year-old right-hander came into this one with a 2-2 record and a 3.33 ERA.
One of these pitchers would have a night he’d rather forget while the other would have one he never will.
Fire Works Early
After three-up and three-down for both side in the first inning, José Abreu came to the plate to lead off the second. After working the count full, Abreu took a 93 mph fastball deep off of Hoffman to left-center for a solo home run, and the first score of the game.
Hoffman bounced back with back-to-back strikeouts of Adam Eaton and Andrew Vaughn, but started to falter. He gave up a single to Leury Garcia first. Next, pitcher Dylan Cease came to plate for his very first major league at-bat. In what would just be the start of his historic night, Cease advanced Garcia on a chopper to third basemen Mike Moustakas, who couldn’t corral the ball.
Tim Anderson would plate both runners two pitches later with a line-drive single to right-field and the Sox extended their lead 3-0.
Runs, Runs, and More Runs
The Reds pulled Hoffman in the top of third after he gave up a lead-off double to Yoan Moncada, allowed Moncada to advance to third base on a wild pitch, and put Adam Eaton at first by hitting him.
Reliever Jose De Leon wouldn’t fare much better.
In the top of the fourth, Cease reached base a second time with a double to right field off of De Leon, sending Garcia to third who had walked the previous at-bat.
Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and José Abreu each went on to knock in a run, and the Sox took a 7-0 heading into the middle of the fourth.
While Dylan Cease continued to pitch a gem, Nick Madrigal and José Abreu went on to add a couple more insurance runs late in the game.
Nick Madrigal knocked in Andrew Vaughan with a single to right-field in the top of the fifth inning off of Sal Romano.
Abreu then scored Madrigal on a single to center field in the top of the eighth off of his former teammate Carson Fulmer. This put the Sox up 9-0.
On the night, the White Sox totaled nine runs on 13 hits, with five walks and one error.
History for Dylan Cease
Dylan Cease put on an absolute show in this game. He was masterful on the mound, pitching six innings of scoreless ball, striking out 11 batters and walking three.
However, that wasn’t enough for the young hurler. Cease came to the plate once more in the top of the fifth. For the third time on the evening, he would reach base safely, this time on a single to right-field. Cease seemed just as amazed as those watching.
Dylan Cease’s combined night on the mound and behind the plate wasn’t just great entertainment. It was objectively historical.
What’s On Tap Next?
The White Sox (16-12, T1st in AL Central) and Reds (13-15, 4th in NL Central) now have a real quick turnaround. They will play game two of this short series today, May 5 at 11:35 AM CDT. The game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 4.65 ERA) will take the mound for the White Sox as they attempt to take sole possession of first place in the AL Central.
Sonny Gray is expected to pitch for Cincinnati. The 31-year-old right-hander has struggled a bit early in the season. He enters this game 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA and giving up 10.5 hits per nine innings.