ARLINGTON, Texas — Dylan Cease walked Marcus Semien with two outs in the second inning on Friday night.
That was the last Texas Rangers batter to catch up with the Chicago White Sox starter, who retired the last 13 he faced.
Cease allowed one run on two hits in six innings, Eloy Jimenez hit a go-ahead home run in the fourth and the Sox beat the Rangers 2-1 in front of 25,470 at Globe Life Field.
Cese struck out five and walked three en route to his 13th consecutive start in which he allowed one or no earned runs, breaking a tie with Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets (2021) for the longest streak since the statistic became official in 1913 (excluding starters).
“It’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever thrown in my life,” Cease said of the final stretch. “I’m happy about that. I’m happy to give us a chance. I hope it continues like this”.
Cease improved to 12-4 while lowering his ERA to 1.98. He and relievers Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks combined for a three-hit ball as the Red Sox tied the Cleveland Guardians for second place in the AL Central. Both teams are two games behind the Minnesota Twins.
“That’s why we come every day,” Cease said of the win. “So definitely a big one.”
The only run Cease allowed came in the first, and it was set up by back-to-back, two-out walks to Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe. Heim scored on a single by Adolis Garcia.
In the second, Cease allowed a one-out single to Bubba Thompson and a two-out walk to Semien. And then nothing else for the rest of his 91-pitch outing.
“I wasn’t very strong at the beginning and then I was able to make an adjustment around second or third, and after that it was pretty solid,” Cease said. “It’s just a better mechanical signal to get off the mound.”
The Sox tied the game in the third.
Yasmani Grandal started the inning with a walk. Semien, the Rangers’ second baseman, couldn’t corner Josh Harrison’s groundout, and the ball bounced into shallow center field. Grandal went from first to third on the play. Seby Zavala brought Grandal home with a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Sox took the lead in the next inning on Jiménez’s sixth home run of the season.
“When I hit it, I said I hit it good,” Jimenez said of the 437-foot blast to left-center. “But this stadium is huge, so I started running right away.”
Cesar, for his part, found a groove.
“He had (45) pitches after two innings, and he ended up pitching until the sixth,” Red Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The young man continues to impress (and) amaze.
“He works really hard and he just calmed down, and that was another side that we haven’t seen where he can dig that deep into a game when he started off in so much trouble.”
Cease got some defensive help in the fifth when right fielder Andrew Vaughn made a good running catch over Corey Seager’s line to right-center. Cese struck out two of the last three batters he faced in the sixth.
“The biggest thing is he wasn’t throwing strikes (early in the game), so they were saying goodbye,” Cease said. “Once I started throwing strikes, they were hitting early and I was able to get back to it.”
The Rangers threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. Graveman got Leody Taveras to ground out first baseman Jose Abreu to get out of trouble.
Hendriks struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth for his 22nd save of the season and 100th career save.
“Obviously it’s a milestone, especially with closers because you tend to fluctuate a little bit with relievers,” Hendriks said. “Being able to be as consistent as I have been for the last three years, give or take four years, it’s not a longer streak, but just being able to get those opportunities that I’ve been able to get at the back. finish and take advantage of what they have given me and go out and win the next one, that’s something I’m proud of”.