TAMPA BAY – He along with the rest of the White Sox were hoping to use the final game of their road trip to redeem themselves from the terrible start to it.
In the second outing of his major league career against the Royals on Tuesday, Cease was hit up for six runs, four of which were earned, in a loss in Kansas City. It was one of the seven-straight losses the team took there and in Oakland to start the second half of the season.
But two-straight wins over the Rays in Tampa Bay allowed the White Sox the chance to pull a surprising sweep with Cease on the mound in search of his second win. But neither were able to do so thanks to an untimely Grand Slam.
Travis d’Arnaud’s in the second inning off the pitcher turned out to be the difference in the Rays’ 4-2 victory that helped them salvage a game for the visitors in their weekend set. Meanwhile, the White Sox have a bad finish to a miserable road trip in which they finished with a 2-8 record, dropping their overall record to 44-52.
Any modest hopes for a least a slight postseason chase, which some may have harbored before the All-Star break when the team was just two games under .500, are gone now. The trip sealed likely seals that fate and makes the White Sox potential sellers at the trade deadline for a third-straight season in the rebuild.
Starting with a three-game sweep in Oakland then four-straight losses in Kansas City before getting 2-of-3 in Tampa Bay, the White Sox were outscored 57-30 and twice allowed more than 11 runs in defeats.
During that stretch, Cease got his first taste of pitching on the road, and though he got through the first inning fine, the second was a struggle on Tuesday. He allowed two walks around a single to load the bases with no outs when d’Arnaud hit the Grand Slam to put the White Sox into a hole they’d not recover from. After that, Cease settled down, walking just one more batter through the fifth inning with two strikeouts and no runs allowed.
Meanwhile, the hitters struggled with reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell who pitched six shutout innings with just three hits allowed and ten strikeouts. When he left, the White Sox mounted a rally in the seventh with an RBI triple from Yolmer Sanchez and a Adam Engel infield hit that brought him home to make it 4-2.
Like the whole road trip, however, it wasn’t enough. Eight losses is certainly enough for the White Sox who limp home after a difficult start to the second half of the season.