CHICAGO – It was another loss for the White Sox on Tuesday, this one a 5-2 decision to the Astros in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Looking to the future – where the Sox’s sights are firmly set – it was another win.
The Sox are trying to stabilize as many pieces as possible in the starting rotation, and Lucas Giolito has pitched like an ace for most of the season.
After a forgettable first half, Reynaldo Lopez flipped the switch and is 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA in six starts after the All-Star break.
Rookie Dylan Cease is another young arm in the future mix, and he showed why in his start Tuesday against a loaded Houston lineup.
“He’s getting better with every outing,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Today was certainly a big one.”
Cease’s Game 1 start initially looked like it was going to be a quick one.
The Astros’ George Springer led off with a mammoth home run on the first pitch, Jose Altuve followed with an infield single, and Michael Brantley reached on a bloop double. After Carlos Correa popped out, Renteria called for Cease to intentionally walk rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez, which loaded the bases.
The strategy worked. Cease got Yuli Gurriel to ground into a double play to end the first inning.
“I usually stay pretty even-keeled,” Cease said. “It doesn’t really matter what’s happening in the game, I’m just controlling what I can.”
The Sox’s 23-year-old righty settled down and wound up going six-plus innings. In his first quality start, Cease allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and five walks to go with two strikeouts. That doesn’t mean he was happy with the outing.
“I didn’t execute pitches that great, but we had a chance to win, so that was OK,” Cease said. “But, I mean, it’s hard to be happy with a loss. I’m definitely not discouraged. Just the end result like that, it is hard to be happy.”
With only seven major league starts on his résumé, Cease is far from a finished product. However, a 2020 Sox rotation featuring Giolito, Lopez, Cease, a healthy Michael Kopech and a likely veteran newcomer shapes up as solid.
“I think that in the future we can be one of the most dominant rotations in baseball,” Giolito said. “You look at the raw stuff we all have, it’s there. It’s just a matter of continuing to build confidence, gain experience and at the end of the day just going out there and executing.”
Even though he’s 2-5 with a 5.54 ERA in his first run with the Sox, Cease already has shown he has the arm to have a major effect.
“I feel like I’m making progress every start,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable. I just have to keep working on stuff and execute pitches better. At the end of the day, it’s how I execute pitches, and I didn’t feel like I did it great today.
“I always judge my outings on that, not necessarily the results because those can be misleading.”