The Chicago White Sox hosted the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night for the first of a three-game weekend set. Fans watching at home got their first taste of a Sox game on Apple TV+ to mostly negative reviews. On the diamond, Dylan Cease produced another strong outing and Jake Burger provided the offense as the White Sox took home a 3-2 win on another frigid April evening on the South Side.
The Mustached Assassin
In hindsight, the first inning was a strong indicator of what was to come from Dylan Cease. He had Rays’ hitters guessing from the jump and striking out in embarrassing fashion.
Cease featured a mostly three-pitch mix of his fastball, slider, and curve. The young fireballer imposed his will on Tampa Bay hitters, throwing any one of his pitches in any count. He stayed ahead of batters all night until finally giving way to Aaron Bummer with two outs in the sixth inning. An inherited runner came around to score to close the book on Cease, who finished with a line of 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 8 K, 2 BB.
That Burger Was So Dank
Jake Burger once again got the nod at third base and batted ninth. He picked up two hits in three at-bats with a run and two driven in. He also provided some fireworks by leading off the bottom of the third inning with a bomb to left field. The second home run of his career was a 430-foot bomb that put the White Sox up 2-0.
However, Jake Burger wasn’t done as he drove in a needed insurance run in the fifth inning. That tally put the Sox up 3-0 and ended up being the deciding run of the game. The righty slugger is finally finding his place with the Chicago White Sox after two Achilles injuries stunted the beginning of his professional career.
They Had Us In The 6th Inning, Not Gonna Lie
The Rays’ only two runs came in the sixth inning with Bummer on the mound. Cease left with a runner on first with two outs after getting Randy Arozarena to strike out.
Tony La Russa opted for a lefty-lefty matchup with Ji-Man Choi as Cease was likely on a pitch count. Choi is tearing the cover off the baseball to start the year, hitting .526. Bummer struggled with his control and immediately fell behind Choi 2-0. The count eventually went full, when Choi doubled off a sinker that caught too much of the plate. Brandon Lowe scored on the double for Tampa Bay’s first run of the game.
Next, Yandy Diaz hit a squibber for a double down the first base line on the first pitch he saw. Bummer finally recorded the third out of the inning, but his rough start to the season continued Friday night. His ERA is well above seven at the moment.
Bullpen Shuts It Down
After that sixth-inning Sox bullpen blip, the Rays didn’t find the scoreboard for the rest of the night.
Bummer allowed a single and a stolen base in the seventh but otherwise escaped unscathed. He retired the Rays in order and Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks did the same in the eighth and ninth, respectively. The White Sox bullpen retired the last nine hitters in a row to seal the 3-2 win.
- Eloy Jimenez made his return to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game. Friday marked the first outing of the year in which he didn’t drive in a run.
- Leury Garcia double and scored the third and deciding White Sox run. That two-bagger broke Garcia’s 0-18 slump to start the year.
- Dylan Cease’s 5.2 innings was the longest start for a Chicago White Sox pitcher so far this year.
- Wild pitch offense opened the scoring in the second inning when Gavin Sheets came home on an errant toss by Rays starter Drew Rasmussen.
What’s On Tap Next?
A White Sox winner is sure to set the tone for the rest of the series. The South Siders continue to enjoy mostly solid pitching and timely hitting, which has resulted in a 5-2 mark to begin the 2022 campaign. Yes, it’s still very early, but it appears to be the start of a special season.
Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend, a talented Rays team is sure to put up a fight to close the series. The Sox will test their mettle again Saturday afternoon as Michael Kopech takes the mound vs. familiar foe Corey Kluber. First pitch is at 1:10 PM CT and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
Tune in to the Sox On Tap podcast for postgame reaction and further White Sox commentary all season.
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