PHOENIX, Ariz. – Dylan Cease said it was probably the best he had ever commanded his fastball.
Not bad at all for a spring training game in March.
Cease pitched four sharp innings for the Chicago White Sox in a 5-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The 6-foot-2 right-hander allowed one run on Keston Hiura's long homer in his final inning and three hits in his second exhibition start.
“Really for most of the spring my fastball command's good, so I think it's just a continuation of the process of working on it,” Cease said.
The White Sox are hoping Cease becomes a regular in their rotation this season. Cease, who was acquired in the July 2017 trade that sent José Quintana to the crosstown Cubs, made his major league debut July 3 and went 4-7 with a 5.79 ERA in 14 starts.
The 24-year-old Cease ran his fastball into the upper-90s against Milwaukee. He struck out the side in the second, including punchouts of veterans Avisaíl García and Jedd Gyorko.
“Whenever I'm facing anyone, especially in a big league spring training game, they're all good hitters,” Cease said. “But to get big league guys out, that's definitely a confidence booster.”
Cease said it was a hanging curveball that Hiura crushed to straightaway center field.
“Based on how he hit it I think it was hanging,” a grinning Cease said. “I don't know for sure.”
Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff pitched three effective innings in his third spring start, allowing an unearned run and three hits. He went 11-3 last year with a 3.62 ERA in 22 starts.
DODGERS 4, GIANTS 0
Things got a little heated in a night game between the longtime rivals after San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto hit Justin Turner on the hand with a pitch and Clayton Kershaw appeared to retaliate by plunking Rob Brantly near the hip.
Kershaw and Giants third base coach Ron Wotus exchanged words, with the three-time Cy Young Award winner shouting at Wotus on the field. Warnings were issued to both benches.
Turner said his hand was only bruised, and he socked a two-run homer off Cueto the next time up. The right-hander also gave up a two-run double to A.J. Pollock in his 2 2/3 innings.
Kershaw threw three sharp innings, permitting two hits and striking out four. Mike Yastrzemski got two hits for the Giants.
PHILLIES (SS) 9, PIRATES (SS) 7
Bryce Harper hit his first two home runs, both two-run drives. Didi Gregorius was hitless in three at-bats, dropping to 0 for 15. Phillies ace Aaron Nola allowed two runs and four hits in four innings in his third start. Adam Frazier homered and Héctor Noesi gave up four runs and five hits in two innings.
YANKEES 3, PHILLIES (SS) 2
In an encouraging sign for New York’s depleted rotation, J.A. Happ struck out six in four shutout innings of two-hit ball. Gleyber Torres had an RBI single and DJ LeMahieu added two hits. Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer for Philadelphia off prospect Michael King.
BRAVES 9, PIRATES (SS) 7
Atlanta ace Mike Soroka allowed three runs, three hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. Bullpen hopeful Chris Rusin struck out five in two scoreless innings. Josh Bell, Bryan Reynolds and Cole Tucker all hit two-run homers. Trevor Williams gave up one run and two hits in three innings.
METS 4, CARDINALS 1
Marcus Stroman struck out four and allowed one hit over three shutout innings in his third start. Jeff McNeil had two doubles and raised his average to .556 in 18 at-bats. Pete Alonso, who set the major league rookie record with 53 home runs last season, singled for his first RBI. St. Louis ace Jack Flaherty gave up three runs and five hits in four innings. Top prospect Nolan Gorman hit his first home run.
TIGERS 13, RED SOX 9
Detroit scored five runs in the first off Jeffrey Springs on C.J. Cron's three-run homer and Frank Schwindel's two-run drive. Schwindel added another two-run homer against Heath Hembree, and Niko Goodrum hit a solo shot. Iván Nova gave up five runs and seven hits in three innings, including J.D. Martinez's three-run homer in the first. Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3 for 3 with a solo home run and a double, raising his average to .412 in 17 at-bats. Top prospect Jeter Downs had two hits and an RBI.
MARLINS (SS) 2, ASTROS 1
Zack Greinke gave up two hits and struck out two over three shutout innings in his second start. Closer Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect fifth inning, and Michael Brantley doubled in a run. Miami's Elieser Hernández yielded one run and three hits in three innings.
ORIOLES 5, MARLINS (SS) 3
Wade LeBlanc allowed one run and struck out four in three innings and Jonathan Villar hit a two-run homer. Caleb Smith gave up four runs, four hits and a walk in three innings. Top five prospect Monte Harrison had two hits, including a double, and raised his average to .375 in 16 at-bats.
RAYS 9, BLUE JAYS 5
Hunter Renfroe had a two-run single and Kevin Kiermaier added a two-run double in Tampa Bay's four-run first inning off Anthony Kay, who walked four and got just one out. Rays starter Tyler Glasnow yielded two hits while striking out three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Bo Bichette had a three-run triple and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed with an RBI double in a four-run third.
INDIANS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 2
Madison Bumgarner allowed Francisco Lindor's three-run homer in a four-run third inning and wound up giving up five runs — four earned — and four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
ANGELS 2, MARINERS 0
Mike Trout was hit by Justin Dunn pitches twice and flied out. Dylan Bundy allowed one hit in in 3 1/3 shutout innings with four strikeouts.
WHITE SOX 5, BREWERS 1
Keston Hiura hit his second home run of spring training. Lorenzo Cain had two hits, including a double. Brandon Woodruff allowed an unearned run and three hits in three innings.
REDS 6, CUBS 6
Tyler Chatwood yielded one run and one hit while striking out five in three innings. Derek Dietrich hit his second home run. Joey Votto went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, lowering his average to .083 (1 for 12).
RANGERS 7, ROCKIES 4
Lance Lynn gave up four runs and seven hits in four innings. Rougned Odor hit his second home run, a two-run drive in a six-run sixth inning. Chris Owings had three singles.
ROYALS 9, PADRES 7
Hunter Dozier hit his first homer, a two-run shot in a six-run first inning. Salvador Pérez had a two-run single. Top prospect Taylor Trammel had two hits, including his third double, and three RBIs.