It needed to have been one of the crucial uncommon strikeouts ever for Dylan Cease.
The Chicago White Sox right-hander was credited with a punchout when Oakland Athletics shortstop Kevin Smith bought referred to as for an computerized strike for batter violation tied to the clock to finish his second-inning at-bat.
Cease pumped his fist as he walked again to the Sox dugout.
“It was a little bit of sarcasm, but a little bit of, ‘This is nice’ kind of mixed in together,” Cease stated with a smile Tuesday.
He agreed it was one in every of his greatest pitches of the afternoon.
“Saved a bullet and got a strikeout?” Cease stated. “You’re killing two birds with one stone there.”
The 2022 American League Cy Young runner-up was again to kind Tuesday at Camelback Ranch, permitting one earned run on three hits with 4 strikeouts in 3⅓ innings in a 5-4 victory.
Cease rebounded from a uncommon off evening in his final begin when he allowed 11 earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on March 8 in opposition to the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium.
“Any time you get beat down pretty good, I think the best thing is to get back out there and keep going until you have success,” Cease stated.
Manager Pedro Grifol stated Cease “checked all the boxes” in opposition to the A’s.
“He was 94-97 (mph), started throwing his offspeed stuff for strikes,” Grifol stated Wednesday morning. “He found it there after the first inning with the four (strikeouts). (He) felt good. He looked good.”
Cease struck out the ultimate two batters of the second, together with Smith. He started the third inning along with his third strikeout of the sport earlier than exiting in fourth after putting out Ryan Nola.
Control was a problem in Cease’s first two spring begins. He was simply lacking with pitches in permitting two walks March 3 in opposition to the Cincinnati Reds. He was off a little bit extra with the slider — his bread-and-butter pitch — in opposition to the Royals and allowed 4 walks.
His slider was working successfully Tuesday, and total Cease had higher management, permitting two walks.
“Once I got locked in with (the slider in the second inning), I pretty much was able to do what I normally do with it,” he stated. “I threw (the) curve and sliders rather well for strikes.
“I started off slow and then got in rhythm when I needed to. Definitely very much a positive step in the right direction.”
Command has been a focus this spring for Cease, who led the majors with 78 walks final season.
“If I’m falling behind 2-0 and throwing fastballs, it’s not going to be the same dominance as when I’m getting ahead 0-1, 0-2 with my offspeed,” he stated. “It simply makes the whole lot play higher.
“It’s about throwing strikes. It’s really that simple. Just getting my stuff in the zone. Easier said than done, but once I’m locked and ready to go, which I feel I am now, I think these last couple are going to be really sharp.”
Cease is aware of the sharper he’s, the deeper he can go into video games.
“When you fall behind, then they can just sit and take and take and take,” Cease stated. “If you force them to put it in early and then there is weak contact, the pitch count definitely stays down. (It’s) being efficient, as efficient as we can.”
Cease likes the development this spring, together with the place he’s at the moment at along with his velocity.
“I have another gear or two to go with it, but we were mid-90s for most of the day,” he stated. “For spring coaching, for nonetheless being comparatively early, it’s undoubtedly an enchancment from my earlier begin.
“And I think I have two or three (more spring) starts, I still have even more time to build so we’re in a really good spot.”