CHICAGO — Dylan Cease insisted simply trying to win and help the Chicago White Sox turn around a season that began with soaring expectations is enough motivation for him.
As for not being selected for his first All-Star Game?
“I’ll take any chip on my shoulder I get,” he said.
Cease threw six innings in his third straight scoreless start, Leury García and AJ Pollock homered, and the White Sox beat the Cleveland Guardians 6-3 on Sunday to salvage a four-game split.
Eloy Jiménez went deep in his second straight game, helping the Sox end a series that was shaping up as a bad one for them on a stronger note.
The reigning AL Central champions rolled into the break by winning three of four at division-leading Minnesota. They hoped this series against the second-place Guardians would help keep pushing them toward the top.
It didn’t quite play out the way they wanted.
They got outscored by a combined 15-6 in losing the first two games, then blew a 3-0 lead in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. The third-place White Sox regrouped to win that one 5-4. On Sunday, they jumped on Shane Bieber (4-6) and finished a stretch of 19 straight games against division opponents at 10-9.
The Sox scored five in the second on García’s 2-run homer and Pollock’s 3-run drive. Jiménez made it 6-0 when he connected leading off the sixth.
That was plenty for Cease (10-4), who thought he did enough to earn an All-Star invitation.
“I think statistically, the first half I put up kind of speaks for itself,” he said. “Unfortunately all the other stuff is out of my hands. I think I should have at least been highly, highly considered.”
Cease won his third straight start, though it wasn’t exactly a breeze.
The right-hander gave up 7 hits and struck out four. He walked one and threw two wild pitches, after beating Cleveland and Minnesota prior to the All-Star break.
“They did a good job adjusting from my last start against them,” said Cease, who struck out nine in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland on July 12. “They put the ball in play a lot more. I just had to find other ways to get outs.”
Cease is 6-1 with a miniscule 0.57 ERA in his past eight starts.
“I’m still trying to figure out how that kid didn’t make the All-Star team,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game.”
White Sox 2B Josh Harrison was scratched from the lineup because he felt a pulling feeling in his right leg during his final at-bat on Saturday. García started in his place. … Jiménez said the discomfort in his right hamstring is “gonna be there for awhile.” Jiménez missed 65 games after he tore his right hamstring April 23 at Minnesota. He missed the four-game series at the Twins prior to the All-Star break because of tightness. … Manager Tony La Russa said the White Sox are being “very careful” with LHP Aaron Bummer (strained left lat), who has been playing catch but not throwing off the mound. Bummer has not pitched since June 7.