CINCINNATI (AP) — White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease hadn’t faced live pitching since his senior year in high school, then he went out and swung the bat like a Hall of Famer on Tuesday night.
Cease threw one-hit ball for six innings, struck out 11 and amazingly got three hits in his first pro plate appearances as Chicago routed the Cincinnati Reds 9-0.
“I believe in myself as a hitter, to be honest,” Cease said. “But I didn’t expect to go out and do that.”
Will wonders never Cease?
It was a historic night with the bat for Cease, who doubled and singled twice before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter.
“There wasn’t anything beyond his talent today,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He jumped a fastball all three times.”
Cease is the first American League pitcher since Jarrod Washburn in 2001 to have a three-hit game. He is the first White Sox pitcher with three hits in a game since Tom Bradley on May 14, 1972, against Baltimore, a year before the designated hitter came into play.
“Three hits, that’s tough to do in the big leagues,” teammate Tim Anderson said. “He made it look easy.”
Cease (2-0) became the second White Sox pitcher to have three or more hits and 10 or more strikeouts in a game, joining Red Faber on April 15, 1915, at St. Louis. Cease also tied his career for strikeouts.
After the first pitch was delayed more than an hour by rain, the White Sox roughed up Jeff Hoffman (2-2) for three runs in the first.
Abreu, who had two hits in his previous 19 at-bats, hit his sixth homer of the season. Abreu had a pair of hits and three RBIs as the White Sox for the eighth time in 11 games.
“We had a lot of disciplined at-bats today,” La Russa said. “Everybody got themselves ready, not making excuses about who’s missing.”
Cease’s first career hit loaded the bases and Anderson delivered a two-run single. Anderson had two hits and drove in three runs.
Hoffman lasted 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
Cease did not allow a hit until Tucker Barnhart’s single to begin the fifth. Barnhart had the only two hits for the Reds.
“He had a four-pitch mix, kept everybody off balance,” Barnhart said, of Cease. “He threw the ball great tonight. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
CEASE WON’T DESIST
In preparation for Tuesday’s start knowing he would get the chance to swing the bat in a National League ballpark, Cease spent two days hitting in the cage and bunting off the machine. He raised some eyebrows when he reached the seats during batting practice prior to Tuesday’s game. He used a Jose Abreu bat and wore a pair of his batting gloves. “There was some magic in that,” Cease said.
Despite losing Jimenez and Robert to injury, the White Sox are remaining positive, and on Tuesday night it showed. “It is a difficult moment,” Abreu said. “We have the pieces to fill that void. As a team we have to be united. You have to put your head up and try to do your best.” Both Jimenez and Robert could miss several months. “You have to pay respect to what Eloy and Luis mean to this club,” La Russa said. “You can’t just say ‘Next man up’ casually. But you just find a way.”
White Sox: OF Luis Robert was diagnosed with a Grade 3 right hip flexor strain and placed on the 10-day injured list after suffering the injury running to first base in Sunday’s game. Robert is not expected to resume baseball activity for 12 to 16 weeks.
Reds: Manager David Bell said OF Shogo Akiyama could return within one week from a hamstring injury. Akiyama played nine innings in center for Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. CF Nick Senzel was scratched from Tuesday’s start with a sore left shoulder. Tyler Naquin replaced him.
White Sox LHP Dallas Keuchel, who has 17 strikeouts over 18 innings but no decisions in three career starts against the Reds, will be opposed by RHP Sonny Gray, who is making his fourth start since coming off the injured list with a muscle strain in his back. Gray is 4-0 with a 3.55 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox.
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