Cease aims to help White Sox turn tide vs. Royals

Dylan Cease will try to help the visiting Chicago White Sox win their first game since the All-Star break when he makes his second major league start on Tuesday night against the Kansas City Royals.

The White Sox didn't have an answer for Royals right-hander Jakob Junis in the opener of the four-game series on Monday night and lost 5-2 after going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Cease (1-0, 5.40 ERA) made his major league debut on July 3 and allowed three runs and four hits in five innings, earning the win in the 7-5 victory against the visiting Detroit Tigers.

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Cease came to the White Sox from the Chicago Cubs in 2017. He was part of the deal that sent left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana to the Cubs.

He recently told reporters that he doesn't expect the 12-day gap between starts to have an adverse effect on his performance, but he won't know until he takes the mound. Cease knows what he needs to do once he gets there, however.

"I need to be efficient," he said. "Basically, fastball command and not wasting pitches."

Cease would also like to see an uptick in his slider's velocity, which was too close to the speed of his curveball in his last outing.

"When you get to the higher level, all the little things add up to bigger things," he said.

Royals starter Glenn Sparkman (2-5, 5.18 ERA) will try to follow up Junis and improve off his last start, which was a major step up from his previous two appearances.

Sparkman gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-0 loss against the Nationals in Washington on July 6, but he closed with four straight scoreless innings.

Sparkman said he gave up trying to hit the corners on every pitch and just concentrated on throwing strikes, a mentality he'll likely carry into the meeting with the White Sox.

"I was trying to nibble here and there, and after those first two innings I was like, 'Let's just go after these guys,'" he said. "My command started to move in the right direction."

Sparkman has faced the White Sox twice this season.

He gave up four runs in a one-inning relief appearance on May 29, and started against them on June 9, allowing three runs (two earned) and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He was the losing pitcher in the 5-2 defeat.

Overall vs. the White Sox, Sparkman is 0-1 in five games (two starts) with a 4.97 ERA.

The Royals hope third baseman Hunter Dozier can pick up where he left off Monday night, when he had two hits and an RBI.

Dozier hit .375 with seven home runs in his first April in the majors, but he has struggled since returning from thorax tightness on his right side, which caused him to miss 19 games from May 31 to June 20.

Dozier was hitting .314 when he went on the injured list, but his averaged had dipped to .278 before he collected the two hits on Monday.

Whit Merrifield has helped pick up the slack during his current 13-game hitting streak, and rookie second baseman Nicky Lopez is 6-for-15 coming out of the All-Star break with three RBIs.

The White Sox will look to veteran center fielder Jon Jay to keep swinging a hot bat.

Jay went 4-for-4 on Monday night, improving to 8-for-16 coming out of the break.

--Field Level Media

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