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Dylan Cease said it was fair to say he was angry after going 3⅓ innings April 23 against the Texas Rangers.
“Starts like that — you just can’t do that,” Cease said.
Cease bounced back in a big way Thursday, pitching all seven innings in an 11-0 victory against the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of a doubleheader in front of 7,628 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Cease allowed three hits and struck out nine while earning the first shutout of his career as the Sox swept the doubleheader.
“The biggest thing is not getting discouraged and basically just following your process and making your tweaks,” said Cease, who against the Rangers allowed only two runs but threw 80 pitches, leading to the short outing. “Keep a level head and keep working at it and eventually it will work out.”
Cease was strong from the outset of his 91-pitch outing Thursday, striking out at least one batter in each of the first four innings. He struck out two in the second, third and fourth.
“See the glove and throw it,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “And that was a vintage, outstanding, first-to-last pitch command of all the pitches. I think his mental approach today, I’m sure he’ll embrace it and own it, because that was the difference. Great concentration.”
Carlos Rodón was just as locked in during Game 1. The left-hander finished a remarkable April on a strong note, striking out a career-high 12 in a 3-1 victory.
It was the eighth-career double-digit-strikeout performance for Rodón, who allowed one run on two hits in six innings for the win. He surpassed his previous career high of 11 strikeouts by fanning JaCoby Jones for the first out in the sixth.
“It definitely feels good, I put a lot of work in to do what we’ve done thus far,” Rodón said. “Just try to keep building to the next start now.
“Right now I’m focused on what (the catcher is) calling and I’m just trying to execute the pitch.”
Rodón improved to 4-0 and has a 0.72 ERA, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with 36 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 innings. The four wins include the no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians on April 14 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“He’s showing a lot — the no-hitter, for one — but he’s showing a lot of gumption where he had to make a pitch to end the inning,” La Russa said.
The Sox scored three runs in the fifth inning to rally from a 1-0 deficit.
Jake Lamb singled and Andrew Vaughn and Zack Collins walked, loading the bases with no outs. Billy Hamilton hit a grounder to first, and Miguel Cabrera thought about throwing home but bobbled the ball. His only play was first, and Lamb scored to tie the game.
Leury García followed with a two-run single to center, making it 3-1.
“Bring in the run, drive in the run, that was my mindset in that at-bat,” García said.
Cabrera represented the tying run, batting with one on and two outs in the sixth. Rodón got him to ground out to García at second to end the threat.
“Facing Cabrera as the tying run, no day at the beach, and he made a great pitch,” La Russa said. “You can’t say enough good things except remind him there’s a lot ahead.”
Rodón exited after throwing 96 pitches.
“It just built off spring training, the work we put in the offseason, during spring it just carried over,” he said of the April success. “I just want to keep going with it, keep running with it.”
Sox closer Liam Hendriks struck out one in a perfect seventh inning for his fifth save.
Game 2 began after delay of 1 hour, 6 minutes because of rain in the area.
García was in the middle of the offense again as the Sox scored four runs in the second inning.
García and Madrigal both knocked in one run with singles against Michael Fulmer, who entered in the second after Matthew Boyd exited with left knee tendinitis. José Abreu added a two-run single to give the Sox a 4-0 lead.
García drove in two more with a single during a seven-run fifth inning. Luis Robert had an RBI with a single, Yoán Moncada hit a three-run homer to right and Yermín Mercedes hit a 449-foot solo home run to center.
Vaughn went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs while Nick Madrigal had three singles, one RBI and two runs as the Sox (14-10) took two of three in the series.
The Sox were without Adam Eaton for Game 2 because the right fielder served a one-game suspension for an April 15 incident against the Cleveland Indians. Eaton shoved Indians shortstop Andrés Giménez after being tagged out at second, believing Giménez forced him off the base. The benches briefly cleared.
Major League Baseball handed down the suspension April 20, calling Eaton’s actions “aggressive.” Eaton lost an appeal.
There was plenty of offense for the Sox in his absence and strong pitching by Cease to follow Rodón.
“Any time you can sit the bullpen like that, it’s huge,” Cease said. “They’ve picked me up a lot this year, so I’m happy I was able to do it today. Carlos has looked unbelievable all year. It’s shaping (up) that we have a pretty good one through five.
“For me, the stuff has always been there, but it’s about how to utilize it. I’m not going to get too high or low from this one. There’s a lot more starts to go, but that’s more of what we’re looking for.”