Heading into Friday night’s matchup Tampa Bay Ray’s starting pitcher, Drew Rasmussen was riding an 11-game streak of starts without a loss. The White Sox made sure to put a stop to that on the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day.
Out of the sea of 42 jerseys, it was Jake Burger’s number 42 that shined the brightest in Chicago. Burger went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a home run.
He got his first knock of the afternoon on the first pitch that he saw of the game. He turned on a high 95 mph fastball and demolished it into the left-field stands for a solo home run.
Burger extended the White Sox lead in the fifth inning when he lifted a Rasmussen slider to right field for an RBI single. Burger showcased his growth as a hitter. He went from getting his hands inside a high and hard fastball to taking what he was given with an outside breaking ball and going the opposite way. That gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead which was more than enough for Tony La Russa’s pitching staff.
Dylan Cease turned in a solid performance for his second consecutive start. He earned the win after throwing 5.2 innings and only allowing one run. That run came after he was lifted from the game after he blew a fastball past Randy Arozarean for his eighth strikeout of the game. However, he was still responsible for the leadoff walk to Brandon Lowe and La Russa opted to go with Aaron Bummer for the lefty vs. lefty matchup against Ji-Man Choi to escape the inning. Choi doubled to bring home the Ray’s first run of the game.
That was the only blemish on an otherwise impressive outing for Cease. He managed to get a strikeout on every pitch in his arsenal. Brandon Lowe and Randy Arozareana each fell victim to a four-seam fastball, with Arozarena fanning on it twice. Brandon Lowe’s terrible day at the plate continued as he watch a slider and changeup go past him for strike three. Kevin Kiermaier struck out on a knuckle-curve, joining Francisco Mejía who struck out twice.
Bummer coughed up another run in the sixth inning after Cease departed but returned in the seventh inning still nursing a one-run lead. He was able to toss a scoreless frame before turning it over to Kendall Graveman.
Graveman extended his scoreless streak in a White Sox uniform to five games after throwing a perfect 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. He would pick up his fourth hold of the season.
That set the stage for Liam Hendriks. Despite Hendriks early struggles this season he looked sharp reverting to his 2021 form. The Australian made a kick save on a comebacker for the first out, induced a pop-out for the second, and struck out Manuel Margot to finish the game with a primal scream.
The win mark’s the White Sox’s fifth of the season and gives them an early one-game lead in the Central Divison standings.