Chicago — D-Ceased.
If you want to put a corny stamp on what went on Sunday in the finale of the Tigers’ four-game set with the White Sox — that would work.
Plain and simple, the Tigers can’t solve the riddle that is White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease, who dominated them over seven innings in a 3-0 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Both his curveball and slider were elite today,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “He was in complete control of both which made him in complete control of the game.”
Cease is now 7-0 against Detroit in his career and he hasn’t allowed a run in two starts this season. After a seven-inning complete-game shutout in the second game of a double-header on April 29, Cease put up seven more zeros Sunday.
He struck out nine in the first start, 10 in this one. The Tigers, who struck out 14 times in the game, took five called third strikes.
“He had an incredible breaking ball today, both of them,” Hinch said. “He was landing them for strikes. If he’s locked in like that, landing both the curve and slider for strikes, he makes it very difficult.
“If he’s not, you can lay off the spin and you’ve got a chance to beat his fastball. Easier said than done when he’s spinning it as much as he was today.”
Cease got 10 swings and misses and 12 called strikes with his two breaking balls.
The closest the Tigers came to scoring came in the fifth when Niko Goodrum hit a long fly ball that was headed to the seats in right center. But Adam Engel, just activated off the injured list, tracked it to the wall, timed his leap perfectly, reached over the wall and brought the ball back.
All the scoring was done in the second inning, an adventuresome romp for both starting pitcher Jose Urena and rookie left fielder Akil Baddoo.
Baddoo had two plays go awry in the three-run second. He made a herculean diving effort to run down a slicing drive by Adam Eaton down the left-field line. But after he slid into the padding, he didn’t immediately get up to chase the ball.
It was if he thought the ball landed foul, but Hinch strongly disagreed.
“I think he tried like hell to catch it and he just missed it,” he said. “He’s sliding as the ball is hitting the ground. I thought he gave a great effort and just didn’t come up with it.”
Eaton jogged into third with one out. After an RBI single by Andrew Vaughn, Nick Madrigal poked a single to left. Baddoo, who had to range to his right to flag it down, had only one play and that was to throw the ball into second, keeping Madrigal at first.
Instead, he threw the ball into the middle of the infield. Madrigal trotted into secnod base.
“Madrigal was getting to second base regardless,” Hinch said. “Akil threw it to the middle of the diamond. It was just a sloppy throw. It didn’t impact where the runner ended up.”
Still, both runners scored on a single by Tim Anderson. Urena had gotten ahead 1-2 with four straight sinkers. But he left a 91-mph change-up up in the zone and Anderson sliced it to right field.
“I thought Jose was good,” Hinch said. “He made a couple of mistakes up in the zone, the one to Anderson. But all in all, for being off for (10 days) and just throwing a couple of bullpens as he was getting healthy, he gave us a nice outing.”
It was Urena’s first start since May 23 after a stint on the injured list (forearm cramp). His stuff might have been a little rusty, but there was nothing wrong with his compete level.
He needed 62 pitches to get through the first three innings. He walked two and had five three-ball counts. But things clicked back in for the fourth and fifth. He got four groundball outs in those two innings, a sign that his sinker was back on point.
“I felt a little bit out of control in the first, but I had to keep on the plan and keep attacking,” Urena said. “The slider came back good in the last couple of innings, but it was wild at first.
“For me, I have to keep my focused and stay under control and start to get early contact. Just try to be more aggressive and be ahead in the count and try to execute in good locations.”
But those three runs, even in the second inning, had an insurmountable feel to them with Cease on the mound.
The Tigers (24-35) went 2-4 on this two-city trip.