KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With so much uncertainty surrounding the White Sox rotation, the team has to take advantage of even mixed-bag starts from its regular rotation members.
Right-hander Dylan Cease gave his team that kind of performance. But the White Sox bats went quiet in a 6-0 loss to the Royals on Sunday.
“If we had got anything offensively, a run here or two or three it’s (a different game),” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He kept us in the game. Worth praising him for that.”
With the rubber-match loss, the White Sox dropped the weekend series and season series to Kansas City. Earlier in the day, the team revealed that Carlos Rodón’s next start would be pushed back due to shoulder fatigue and soreness.
The White Sox already had to adjust to Lance Lynn (right knee inflammation) and Lucas Giolito (left hamstring strain) hitting the injured list. Now that Rodón will be out until at least next weekend’s home series against Boston, by the end of this road trip, the White Sox will have been without their top three starting pitchers for over a week. In the meantime, Cease is the de facto ace.
“We’ll start somebody who gives us a chance to win every day Lance or Lucas is not the pitcher,” La Russa said. “I’m confident about that.”
September remains important for the White Sox, regardless of the 9 1/2-game lead they hold in the NL Central. As they work toward clinching, the White Sox are also fighting for seeding, as a team that has a losing record on the road (33-34) .
In context, Cease’s start Sunday – four runs (three earned) in five innings – was an opportunity to seize.
Cease’s struggles against the first three batters he faced looked ominous. He walked Royals leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield and gave up a double to Nicky Lopez. Then, Salvador Perez dropped a three-run homer over the center field wall, logging his third home run in two days. The White Sox trailed 3-0 with no outs.
“I just kept moving forward,” Cease said. “Being as aggressive as I can be and trying to execute pitches.”
Cease retired the next six straight. When he faced Perez again, in the third inning, Cease largely kept the ball off the plate, getting Perez to roll over an outside slider. White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada fielded the routine ground ball and fired to first base.
The throw was a bit low, and first baseman Gavin Sheets dropped it. The ball rolled behind the base as Perez ran through first, careening off his foot and into right field. A run scored.
“He gave us a chance – four runs for our offense,” La Russa said. “But (Royals starter Brady) Singer pitched well, didn’t give us anything.”
After scoring 10 runs the night before, on Sunday the White Sox were shut out for the 10th time this season.