Astros make things tough on Cease, Sox in 10-2 loss
By Scot Gregor
Before facing the Astros in Houston on Thursday night, Dylan Cease's last two starts were against the Detroit Tigers.
The White Sox's right-hander fared quite well, winning both games while allowing 2 earned runs over 12 innings and striking out 17.
The Astros are not the Tigers, and they pounded Cease and the Sox 10-2 at Minute Maid Park.
"The last couple starts against (Detroit), I've really been locked in," Cease said. "It's just one of those things where if I'm executing pitches and I bring my A-game, I'm tough to hit."
Cease failed to execute against a Houston lineup that came into the game leading the major leagues with a .275 batting average, 372 runs scored and a .797 OPS.
"Those guys are super talented," said White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel, who pitched for the Astros from 2012-18. "They're hands down right now the best lineup in the American League. If they had a more stable pitching staff they would be a force to be reckoned with. "And I'm sure they will. They know how to win."
The Sox won two of three from a strong Tampa Bay team before losing the opener of a four-game series to the equally formidable Astros.
Cease had a fastball and not much else working against Houston's high-powered offense, and he got into immediate trouble in the first inning when Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homer. Lasting just 3⅓ innings, Cease gave up 6 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks.
"I wasn't getting count leverage and the off-speed wasn't there like it usually is," Cease said. "It was one of those games where my stuff felt decent, but I wasn't able to utilize it. They're obviously a good offensive team, and if you put them in hitters counts it's going to be tough."
The game was the first since Aug. 2, 2006 (Felipe Alou vs. Frank Robinson) where both managers were over 70 years old.
The White Sox's Tony La Russa is 76 and Astros manager Dusty Baker is 72.
"I like talking about Dusty because the old saying is guys who become OK managers were really horrible players and they use me as an example," La Russa said. "I was taught by Sparky (Anderson) and those guys, don't have to be a horrible player, just somebody who loves and wants to learn it. Dusty, Don Baylor, Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, those guys were really good players and became really good managers.
"Dusty and I have had a long relationship, the only time there were sparks was when we were in the same division when he was in Cincinnati and Chicago."