Rookie Dylan Cease solid in White Sox’ 6-2 loss

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If Dylan Cease didn’t know his seventh major league start would have a different, more challenging feel than most of the others, the Astros let him know right away when George Springer hit the rookie right-hander’s first pitch 467 feet into the left field seats at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Granted, Cease had faced (and lost to) a strong lineup against the Twins, the major leagues’ record-setting home run hitting outfit, two starts ago. But the Astros, World Series champions two years ago and a popular choice to win another in 2019, posed a boy-versus-men test for the 23-year-old Cease.

Give Cease another passing mark, despite five walks (one intentional) and two homers allowed and just two strikeouts in a 6-2 loss. After Jose Altuve launched a 106-mph rocket into the left-field seats in the third inning, Cease retired 11 batters in a row, seven via the ground ball, and allowed two earned runs in 6-plus innings. Both unearned runs scored on passed balls by Welington Castillo, who had a rough game behind the plate with yet another passed ball with Jace Fry pitching in the seventh.

On the first passed ball, Castillo’s flip to Cease covering home almost got Yordan Alvarez (who had walked with two out and nobody on base in the sixth), a replay challenge going in the Astros’ favor. On the second, with Kelvin Herrera pitching, Castillo whiffed on another high heater that hit umpire Todd Tichenor, allowing Jake Marisnick to score an unearned run on Cease’s ledger.

Cease’s line looked like this: Six-plus innings, five hits, four runs (two earned), five walks (one intentional), two strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches, 56 for strikes, seven of them swing-and-miss strikes. He avoided the big inning, a bugaboo for him in previous starts.

Manager Rick Renteria would likely chalk it up as another worthy learning experience.

“We still have young men who are learning and growing but their stuff is [very good], being able to perform at high level,” Renteria said. “Ultimately it’s about gaining experience and time. You can’t replace the experience these guys are getting at the major league level. It’s invaluable.”

The Sox were in this one against right-hander Zack Greinke, thanks to RBI doubles by Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu in the fourth and fifth innings. The Astros pecked away with a run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to pad the lead.

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