Andrew Vaughn’s grounder just squeaked between third baseman José Ramírez and shortstop Amed Rosario for a two-out single in the first inning.
The Chicago White Sox wouldn’t get another hit against Cleveland Guardians starter Shane Bieber until an infield single by José Abreu with one out in the seventh.
Bieber has often given the Sox fits, and Tuesday was no different. The Sox were limited to three hits in a 4-1 loss in the first game of a split doubleheader at Progressive Field.
Dylan Cease gave what manager Tony La Russa called an “All-Star worthy” performance in Game 2, helping the Sox earn a split with a 7-0 victory.
Cease, who was not included on the All-Star roster when pitchers and reserves were announced Sunday, allowed five hits and struck out nine while walking three in 5⅔ innings.
“The biggest thing is just beating (an American League) Central opponent,” Cease said. “I definitely want to keep adding to what I’ve been doing.”
He received early support when Abreu hit a two-run homer in the first against Konnor Pilkington, whom the Sox traded to Cleveland last year for second baseman César Hernández.
Josh Harrison had a solo home run in the second and Luis Robert hit a three-run homer in the ninth.
“We always go out with the mindset of winning,” Robert said through an interpreter. “It may be we lose one game or two games in a row, three games in a row. But our mindset is always go out there and try to win. That was what we did (Tuesday).
“Things didn’t go our way the first game, but the second game we were able to come out on top.”
It was a day filled with impressive pitching, with Bieber getting the best of the Sox in the opener.
“He threw the ball well,” Harrison said. “That’s baseball. Sometimes you’re going to have guys that have outings like that. He pounded the zone. That’s pretty much what a lot of starting pitchers want to do. He lived down in the zone, got his outs.
“He got a couple of double plays, ground balls when he needed them. Sometimes you’re going to run into guys that have a day like that.”
Bieber went the distance, striking out seven with no walks.
“Our plan was try to hit more balls to the middle,” La Russa said. “We rolled over a few, but when that ball is spinning in on you or spinning away, it’s hard to. The pitcher deserves the credit.”
Bieber entered Tuesday with a 6-2 record in 13 career starts against the Sox. His 2.48 ERA against them was his second-lowest against any American League opponent behind only the Baltimore Orioles (0.75).
Davis Martin kept the Sox in the game, allowing four runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
Martin took a liner near his right shoulder in the second but recovered and turned a double play — and remained in the game.
The Guardians scored three runs in the third, all with two outs. Ramírez had a two-run single to make it 3-0.
“I liked how I attacked the zone,” Martin said of his overall outing. “This team is a good hitting team. They are a contact team. They are going to get their singles. I’d say probably three things: Walking (Myles) Straw (with one out in the fifth), the fastball that leaked in to Rosario for the double (in the fifth) and just when we faced Jose Ramírez. He’s an All-Star for a reason.
“Can’t let him beat you and I pitched too into the zone against him. I should have been a little bit more, hey, let’s try to move it off the plate or try to get him to chase. There’s guys on base. He wants his RBIs. Let’s see if we can get him to chase. If he doesn’t? Fine. Let’s go to the next guy.”
The third inning featured less-than-stellar defense from the Sox. Austin Hedges reached on a grounder that third baseman Yoán Moncada couldn’t cleanly field for an infield hit. Hedges scored with two outs when Rosario’s liner to left-center fell for a double. Left fielder Eloy Jiménez did not take a direct path to the ball.
With runners on second and third and two outs, the Sox elected to pitch to Ramírez, who knocked in two with a single to right.
“We were going to pitch Ramírez tough, and probably the mistake he made there, puts the ball over the plate (and) it’s a single,” La Russa said. “Still was a ground ball, found a hole.”
Rosario drove in Straw with the double in the fifth. Ramírez came up and was intentionally walked after fouling off a pitch.
“The second time we were pitching around (Ramírez) too,” La Russa said. “Even then, pitch tough. Because sometimes then you get the guy, they get themselves out. And if they get good patience, it’s like an unintentional intentional walk.
“So that’s what (pitching coach) Ethan (Katz) went out to say, and the first pitch was on the plate. He fouled it off, so I said, well, put him on (with the intentional walk). I just think it’s lack of experience for Davis and understanding more about that situation. Because he’s smart enough to know to pitch off the plate and he got it on, cost him two runs (in the third). He was supposed to do it again (in the fifth) and after one strike, said no.”
The Sox showed some signs of coming together offensively in the seventh. Jiménez followed Abreu’s single with one of his own, bringing home Vaughn for the team’s only run. Gavin Sheets represented the tying run but grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Bieber retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth as the Sox dropped to 1-6 this season against the Guardians. They picked up win No. 2 — and more importantly didn’t fall farther behind in the standings — with the victory in the nightcap.
Cease has allowed one or fewer earned runs in each of his last nine starts. He improved to 8-4 while lowering his ERA to 2.30.
“He just competes,” La Russa said. “He has a lot to compete with and he’s getting smarter and more knowledgeable about his delivery and how he makes adjustments.”
Cease exited with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. Reynaldo López struck out Luke Maile to escape the jam.
The Guardians loaded the bases with two outs again in the eighth, but Kendall Graveman got Ernie Clement to line out to left. AJ Pollock made a nice sliding catch.
Robert broke the game open with the three-run homer off the foul pole in right.
“I knew I made good contact but I wasn’t sure the ball would go out,” he said. “At first I thought it would be foul. My homers to the opposite field are usually to the gap. This one was on the line. But I knew I hit it well.”
After a tough afternoon, the Sox bounced back.
“Incredibly important,” Cease said. “Obviously we are fighting back up the standings in the Central and every game is super important, so it was good to split and not lose both of them.”