The Cleveland Guardians lost, 7-0, to the Chicago White Sox to split Tuesday’s doubleheader.
The outcome was pre-ordained as soon as the pitching matchup was announced.
Chicago starting pitcher Dylan Cease entered the game with a 0.60 ERA over his last eight starts. He boasts one of the deadliest sliders in baseball, against which opposing hitters are batting .132 this season. That slider accounted for 54% of his pitches against the Guardians and they had no answer for it. Cease recorded a 44% CSW% on his slider and finished the night with nine strikeouts en route to six shutout innings. He issued three walks and surrendered five hits.
Cleveland’s best opportunity to break through against Cease came in the sixth inning, when he finally seemed to be running out of fuel. With two outs, Jose Ramirez standing on third base, and Cease’s pitch count approaching the century mark, Owen Miller and Alex Call worked back-to-back walks to load the bases. White Sox manager Tony La Russa opted to pull Cease in favor of Reynaldo Lopez, but Guardians manager Terry Francona decided to stick with Luke Maile at the plate. Predictably, Maile struck out on three pitches — swinging at a pitch a foot outside the zone for strike three — to leave the runners stranded and preserve the shutout.
But Cleveland looked overmatched against Cease for most of the night.
Speaking of overmatched, Konnor Pilkington made his ninth start for the Guardians. He is not a very good starting pitcher, but has been forced to make an unfortunate number of starts for Cleveland this season due to the abundance of doubleheaders. Pilkington had another typical start against the White Sox, surrendering a two-run homer to Jose Abreu in the first inning to give the Guardians an early deficit. Josh Harrison sent a laser shot into the home run porch in left for a solo home run in the second inning to make it 3-0 in favor of Chicago.
The White Sox’s fourth run against Pilkington was unearned, made possible by an error courtesy of Ernie Clement at third base. With one out and runners on first and second in the third inning, Eloy Jimenez hit a chopper to third, where Clement couldn’t corral it off the bounce and watched as it rolled into shallow left field, allowing Andrew Vaughn to score from second.
Pilkington’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
The pleasant surprise of the game was the performance of the Cleveland bullpen (with the exception of Bryan Shaw). Nick Sandlin pitched the sixth inning and didn’t walk anyone. In fact, he even struck out a pair. James Karinchak had his second consecutive scoreless outing, taking care of the seventh and eighth innings. Unfortunately, Shaw had to go and ruin it, giving up a three-run home run to Luis Robert in the ninth inning to ensure the game was safely out of reach. But he has no business being on a big league roster, so what do you expect.
Prior to Shaw’s meltdown, the Guardians squandered one last golden opportunity to put runs on the board in the eighth inning. After a leadoff single by Josh Naylor, Franmil Reyes drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Owen Miller promptly struck out on three pitches before Nolan Jones pinch hit for Alex Call, but he too struck out. Amed Rosario then managed to reach on an infield single to load the bases. Unfortunately, that brought future designee for assignment Ernie Clement to the plate. He lined out to left, to the surprise of no one.
In total, Cleveland left 12 men on base on the night. Bravo.