Cease strikes out 13, White Sox hold off Orioles 4-3

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — Dylan Cease made it look easy as soon as he stepped on the mound.

Cease struck out a career-high 13 over seven innings, Gavin Sheets homered and the Chicago White Sox avoided a four-game sweep, hanging on to beat Baltimore 4-3 Sunday after the Orioles scored twice in the ninth inning.

“It feels great,” Cease said. “I want to be that guy that the team can rely on.”

Cease has certainly been reliable, with a 2.56 ERA through 15 starts. And he helped put the White Sox in position for an easy win before things got dicey.

The Orioles, aided by errors on consecutive plays by first baseman Jose Abreu, loaded the bases against Kendall Graveman with none out in the ninth before Jonathan Arauz lined an RBI single.

After pinch hitter Rougned Odor struck out, Cedric Mullins cut it to 4-3 with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Graveman struck out Trey Mancini for his third save as the White Sox snapped a four-game skid, avoiding their first four-game sweep at home since Sept. 4-7, 2017 against Cleveland.

The Orioles’ season-high four-game winning streak ended.

Cease (6-3), fifth in the majors in strikeouts coming into the game, kept the Orioles off balance with a high-90s fastball and nasty slider and curve. The right-hander allowed four hits, walked one and surpassed his previous high of 11 strikeouts, which he matched in Chicago’s win over Toronto on Tuesday. The only run he allowed came on a homer by Arauz.

“I love watching Dylan pitch,” Sheets said. “He’s very effective. He attacks the zone. He’s got great stuff.”

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was impressed, too.

“That’s elite stuff,” he said. “I was happy we got four hits off him. It’s three plus-plus pitches. It’s 100 (mph). It’s a bright day, so it’s tough to see. He’s throwing 100 with a nasty slider and nasty curveball. … Very difficult to hit against.”

Sheets hit a two-run drive against Jordan Lyles in the second. Abreu singled twice and scored two runs.

Highly touted rookie Lenyn Sosa picked up his first major league hit when he doubled in the third and scored. Seby Zavala added an RBI single in the fourth.

Joe Kelly worked around back-to-back singles by Mullins and Mancini in the eighth. Graveman, closing with Liam Hendriks sidelined because of a strained right forearm, stayed composed when things got tense in the ninth.

“I think one thing that experience does in those moments is you’ve still got a game plan, be able to slow the game down and not get sped up,” Graveman said. “Call everybody in right then and say, ‘Hey, it’s fine, we’ve still got to win a baseball game. No panic. Nobody’s fault. I’ll pick you up. I’ll do the best I can to pick you up moving forward and try to win this baseball game.’ The last thing you need is for it to get a little spiral-y and get out of control.”

Lyles (4-7) went seven innings, allowing four runs and six hits.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Kyle Bradish (right shoulder inflammation) should be ready to return from the 15-day injured list around the time he is eligible, manager Brandon Hyde said. He was placed on the IL on Thursday after experiencing soreness following a side session a few days earlier.

White Sox: 3B Yoan Moncada (right hamstring strain) is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday when he’s eligible to return from the 10-day IL, manager Tony La Russa said.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Tyler Wells (5-4, 3.34 ERA) looks to win his fourth straight start as the Orioles open a three-game series at Seattle. Wells, who tossed five scoreless innings against Washington on Wednesday, is 4-0 in his past five outings. RHP George Kirby (2-2, 3.12) gets the ball for the Mariners.

White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (4-4, 5.40) looks to steady himself after posting a 9.47 ERA in his past five starts as the White Sox visit the Los Angeles Angels. RHP Noah Syndergaard (4-6, 3.86) pitches for the Angels.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.