White Sox' Dylan Cease falters in lopsided loss to Red Sox

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Dylan Cease falters in lopsided loss to Red Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Asked on Tuesday if the White Sox' recent series victory over the Yankees — with all of its drama — could one day be looked upon as a turning point in his club's 2022 season, general manager Rick Hahn joked to reporters that, in baseball, momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher.

"We've got Dylan Cease going tonight, so that's good," Hahn said hours before the White Sox' series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. "We probably have a little momentum on our side."

Unfortunately, from first pitch — when Red Sox outfielder Kiké Hernandez belted a solo home run to left field — it wasn't Cease's night.

The White Sox' wunderkind submitted his worst start of an otherwise stellar season on Tuesday, ceding seven runs in three innings of work. It marked Cease's shortest outing of the campaign, and worse, opened the floodgates for a 16-3 loss that dropped his side's season record to 21-21.

"If you take 30-something starts you're gonna have some where your location's not good," manager Tony La Russa said of Cease after the game. "He just wasn't sharp, and they were ready to hit and made him pay."

Indeed, the Red Sox were. Boston entered play on a five-game win streak and looking a far cry from the team against which Cease logged eight strikeouts while pitching five innings of one-run ball on May 7 at Fenway.

Cease wasn't yet ready to make any firm evaluations on what went wrong, other than feeling that his curveball command was off. He and La Russa also each conceded that tipping pitches was a possibility.

"I think we're gonna have to take some time, look into it," Cease said postgame. "They (the Red Sox) put some good swings."

Eight of those swings, in fact, produced exit velocities of greater than 100 miles per hour, a staggering figure for just three innings of work. Tuesday's start set a new season-high for Cease in runs allowed (7), matched a season high in hits conceded (8) and marked just the second time in nine appearances MLB's strikeout leader rung up fewer than eight batters.

It also raised his season ERA from 3.09 to 4.24.

"It takes some time," Cease said when asked how he'll process his outing. "I'll be upset tonight, and then I'll just be back ready tomorrow, ready to work on it."

Next up for Cease? In all likelihood, another home start on Sunday against the Cubs. In that game lies an opportunity to bounce back.

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