McCoy: Behind dominant Cease, White Sox rout Reds

The only thing the Cincinnati Reds wanted to say Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park: “Cease and desist.”

It was bad enough that Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease held the Reds to no runs and one lonely single in six innings.

What made it pure agony was that Cease, who had never batted in any professional game, banged three hits as the White Sox socked the Reds, 9-0.

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Adding further insult, Cease was not scheduled to pitch. It was Carlos Rodon’s turn to pitch, a guy who pitched a no-hitter earlier this season.

The White Sox, though, decided to hold back Rodon to pitch later in the week against the Kansas City Royals, the team Chicago is chasing in the American League Central.

So Cease was a stand-in and what a stand-in he was. And he knew what he was doing standing in the batter’s box.

He beat an infield single during Chicago’s three-run second. He faked a bunt and slammed a double off the right field wall during Chicago’s three-run fourth. He singled when Chicago scored a run in the fifth.

Did somebody say get rid of the designated hitter?

On the mound? Six innings, no runs, one hit, three walks, 11 strikeouts. He left after six innings with 98 pitches and a scoreless streak of 13 straight innings over his last two starts.

The Reds had only two hits, both by Tucker Barnhart, and one was the only hit off Cease.

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“He had a four-pitch mix and was keeping everybody off balance,” said Barnhart about Cease. “He is a guy who historically doesn’t throw a ton of strikes. But he threw enough strikes tonight to have us expand that zone.

“For me, personally, his change-up was one of the more perplexing pitches that I’ve ever faced,” Barnhart added. “It leaves you scratching your head. It was really good, just kinda floated. It was a good pitch. It had me looking and I swung and missed it a couple of times.”

By the time the Reds had a hit, Barnhart’s leadoff single in the fifth, the White Sox had eight hits. And only one was a home run.

Jose Abreu led the second inning with a home run off Reds starter Jeff Hoffman to give the Chisox a 1-0 lead.

Then they used eight singles and two doubles to pile up seven more runs by the end of the fifth inning.

Hoffman lasted only 2 1/3 innings for the Reds and gave up four runs and five hits.

“I thought he came out good, he was attacking,” said catcher Barnhart about Hoffman. “It seemed like they battled us with two strikes and got a couple of big hits with two strikes that we would normally put guys away with.”

The Reds hoisted the official surrender flag in the ninth when they brought in position player Alex Blandino to pitch.

He walked the first batter, Zach Collins, on a full count, shaking off Barnhart a couple of times. Then he got two outs on a double play grounder and retired opposing relief pitcher Jose Ruiz on a ground ball to complete a scoreless inning.

“Yeah, he wanted to throw his knuckleball,” said Barnhart. “I just didn’t want him to hit anybody. He threw a good change-up to Zach Collins and Collins laughed and said, ‘Man, he’s actually throwing real pitches.’

“It is what it is and I’d rather not be out there catching position players,” Barnhart added. “That means the game is way out of hand. You take the good with the bad and laugh about it.”

In other negative news, the Reds learned before the game that relief pitcher Amir Garrett was suspended for seven games and fined.

It stemmed from the on-the-field incident with the Chicago Cubs involving Garrett and Chicago’s Javier Baez. Baez was fined, but not suspended. Garrett appealed the punishment and can pitch until a decision is made on the appeal.