Dylan Cease insisted simply trying to win and help the Chicago White Sox turn around a season that began with soaring expectations is enough motivation for him.
As for not being selected for his first All-Star Game?
“I'll take any chip on my shoulder I get,” he said.
Cease threw six innings in his third straight scoreless start, Leury García and AJ Pollock homered, and Chicago beat the Cleveland Guardians 6-3 on Sunday to salvage a four-game split.
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Eloy Jiménez went deep in his second straight game, helping the White Sox end a series that was shaping up as a bad one for them on a stronger note.
The reigning AL Central champions rolled into the break by winning three of four at division-leading Minnesota. They hoped this series against the second-place Guardians would help keep pushing them toward the top.
It didn't quite play out the way they wanted.
They got outscored by a combined 15-6 in losing the first two games, then blew a 3-0 lead in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. The third-place White Sox regrouped to win that one 5-4. On Sunday, they jumped on Shane Bieber (4-6) and finished a stretch of 19 straight games against division opponents at 10-9.
Chicago scored five in the second on García’s two-run homer and Pollock’s three-run drive. Jiménez made it 6-0 when he connected leading off the sixth.
That was plenty for Cease (10-4), who thought he did enough to earn an All-Star invitation.
“I think statistically, the first half I put up kind of speaks for itself,” he said. “Unfortunately all the other stuff is out of my hands. I think I should have at least been highly, highly considered.”
Cease won his third straight start, though it wasn't exactly a breeze.
The right-hander gave up seven hits and struck out four. He walked one and threw two wild pitches, after beating Cleveland and Minnesota prior to the All-Star break.
“They did a good job adjusting from my last start against them,” said Cease, who struck out nine in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland on July 12. “They put the ball in play a lot more. I just had to find other ways to get outs.”
Cease is 6-1 with a miniscule 0.57 ERA in his past eight starts.
“I'm still trying to figure out how that kid didn't make the All-Star team,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “He's one of the best pitchers in the game.”
Cleveland lost its second in a row after winning five straight.
Bieber got tagged for six runs and eight hits in six innings. The 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner tossed a three-hitter in a 4-1 victory over the White Sox in his previous start on July 12.
Franmil Reyes hit a two-run homer in the eighth, and Steven Kwan added a solo drive in the ninth against Liam Hendriks.
White Sox: 2B Josh Harrison was scratched from the lineup because he felt a pulling feeling in his right leg during his final at-bat on Saturday. García started in his place. ... Jiménez said the discomfort in his right hamstring is “gonna be there for awhile." Jiménez missed 65 games after he tore his right hamstring April 23 at Minnesota. He missed the four-game series at the Twins prior to the All-Star break because of tightness. ... Manager Tony La Russa said the White Sox are being “very careful” with LHP Aaron Bummer (strained left lat), who has been playing catch but not throwing off the mound. Bummer has not pitched since June 7.
Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (2-7, 4.02 ERA) gets the ball as Cleveland opens a four-game series at Boston. Though he's 0-3 in his past seven starts, Plesac's ERA is 3.03 in that span. RHP Nick Pivetta (8-7, 4.50) starts for the Red Sox.
White Sox: RHP Michael Kopech (3-6, 3.36) looks to win his second straight start when the White Sox open a two-game series at Colorado on Tuesday. Kopech went five innings at Minnesota on July 15. The Rockies had not announced a starter.
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