Cease strikes out nine, White Sox split DH with Guardians

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND – Dylan Cease struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings in his first start since being left off the AL All-Star team, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Cleveland Guardians 7-0 for a doubleheader split.

Jose Abreu, Luis Robert and Josh Harrison homered for Chicago, which had dropped four of six before its sorely needed victory in the nightcap. The White Sox won in Cleveland for the first time in five tries this season.

Cease (8-4) allowed five hits while continuing his bid to become an injury replacement for the July 19 Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium. The right-hander has not allowed more than one earned run in nine straight starts, posting a 0.53 ERA over his last 51 innings.

“Beating a Central division opponent is the biggest thing, but I definitely want to keep adding to what I’ve been doing,” Cease said, referring to his All-Star Game candidacy. “Every game is super important.”

In the opener, Shane Bieber tossed a three-hitter for his first complete game of the season, leading Cleveland to a 4-1 victory. Jose Ramirez and Amed Rosario each drove in two runs.

Abreu sparked Chicago in the second game with a two-run homer in the first against Konnor Pilkington (1-2). Harrison added a solo shot in the second.

Pilkington was charged with four runs, three earned, and six hits in five innings.

Robert curled a three-run drive off Bryan Shaw in the ninth just inside the foul pole in right.

“I knew I had made good contact, but personally, I thought it would be foul, so it was a good one,” said Robert, who had three hits.

Reynaldo Lopez, Kendall Graveman and Matt Foster followed Cease in the eight-hit shutout.

“It was a long day,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The pressure was on us in the second game, so we’ll enjoy it.”

Bieber (4-5) struck out seven and walked none in just the 17th complete game in the major leagues in 2022. The righty was 0-2 in six starts since beating Baltimore on June 3, the longest winless streak of his career.

The 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner carried a one-hit shutout into the seventh en route to his first complete game since Aug. 4, 2019. Bieber only needed 95 pitches to wrap up the 2-hour, 9-minute ballgame.

“Yeah, I enjoyed that,” Bieber said, smiling. “I was able to go out there and be efficient and get through nine. I feel really good right now, so I’ve just got to keep rolling and keep building off the last one.”

It was the fourth complete game of Bieber’s big league career and the first by a Cleveland pitcher since Aaron Civale‘s five-hitter at Pittsburgh on Aug. 19, 2020.

“Shane had a good work week and was in control,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “When you look up at nine innings and under 100 pitches, it means a guy is really pitching.”

Rosario delivered RBI doubles in the third and fifth off Davis Martin (1-3), while Ramirez had a two-run single in the third. Ramirez, selected for his fourth All-Star Game, leads the AL with 68 RBIs.

“It was pretty cool going up against Bieber,” said Martin, who worked a season-high six innings. “His arsenal is very similar to mine.”

The Guardians played their league-high eighth doubleheader, seven of them at Progressive Field. All four of Chicago’s doubleheaders have taken place on the road.

TOUGH GUYS

Guardians designated hitter Franmil Reyes fouled a pitch off his right ear in the opener, but played all 18 innings. The ball ricocheted off the dirt and struck Reyes below his helmet, giving him a small cut.

Martin was hit between his right shoulder and biceps by an Andres Gimenez liner, leaving the rookie with a baseball-shaped bruise that featured stitching marks on his pitching arm.

“Davis shook it right off, said `I’ve got this,’ and stayed in the game,” La Russa said. “He was amazing.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: C Yasmani Grandal (back spasms) has shifted his rehab assignment from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte. Grandal, who was placed on the injured list on June 13, had a .692 on-base percentage in three games with the Barons.

Guardians: OF Oscar Gonzalez (right abdominal strain) is performing light physical exercises, but has not been cleared for baseball activities. The rookie is eligible to be activated off the IL, but likely will remain there until after the All-Star break.

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (5-5, 5.05 ERA) makes his 12th career start against Cleveland in the four-game series finale.

Guardians: Civale (2-5, 6.28 ERA) seeks his first victory in his fifth start since returning from a left glute injury on June 21.

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.