Spoiled No-Hit Bid Highlights Tense Division Race in AL Central

A match-up between a top hitter and a top pitcher is always must-see TV. But that same match-up in the 9th inning, with the pitcher one out away from a no-hitter, in a September series that could potentially determine the playoff fates of two division rivals? Suffice to say, even in a blowout victory, Luis Arraez and Dylan Cease made for some great baseball yesterday.

Down 13-0, the Twins entered the last inning hoping just to avoid complete embarrassment, with their only two baserunners all game coming off of walks. Cease had cruised through the first eight innings, striking out 7 and needing less than 90 pitches. He was looking to record the White Sox’ third no-hitter in three years, after Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon threw no-no’s in years prior. Only one final obstacle stood in Dylan’s way: Luis Arraez. And on the third pitch of the at-bat, just two strikes away from history, Arraez spoiled Cease’s exceptional start with the type of hit that’s come to define his career: a line drive to the shallow outfield.
It’s impressive enough that Cease was able to get Arraez out in his first three plate appearances. With a .318 average, he’s running away with the American League batting title, which he’s accomplished with some of the lowest strikeout and swinging strike rates in baseball, making up for his bottom-percentile exit velocities. That old school, Gwynn-esque approach to hitting makes him one of the most frustrating hitters to face and a pariah for fans of opposing teams.

The win brought the White Sox to 67-66, two games behind the AL-Central leading Guardians, and just one behind the Twins. The Sox were heavily favored to win the division at the start of the year, but injuries and a lack of depth in the infield and bullpen led to a miserable start that they’ve only just started to emerge from. The team will hope that yesterday’s big win, their fourth in a row, will spur a late surge in the pennant race - even if they didn’t get their no-hitter. 

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