White Sox 4, Royals 3: Lucas Giolito back to beastly after blip

For an inning, it looked like Lucas Giolito’s hot streak came crashing to a halt. He gave up a single, a walk, and a three-run homer to Alex Gordon in succession to dig a 3-0 hole for the White Sox before they even came to the plate.

Then he retired 18 of the last 21 batters he faced, the White Sox bled Brad Keller to death with papercuts, and Alex Colomé pulled a David Robertson by saving Game 2 after winning Game 1.

Giolito upped the degree of difficulty on himself, but he improved to 7-1 while keeping his ERA below 3.00 after the smoke cleared.

How’d he do it? With 10 strikeouts, which he racked up via a whopping 26 whiffs on just 107 pitches. More than half of them (14) came on his fastball, which he spotted with precision just above the strike zone. After riding his slider heavily in his shutout, he was back to using the changeup with great efficiency (16 strikes out of 24, eight by whiff).

He also did it by neutralizing Terrance Gore. So many White Sox-Royals games fell apart in the late innings due to Kansas City’s speed — especially during the Robin Ventura era — so when Gore took over for catcher Cam Gallagher after a leadoff single to start the eighth, it was easy to imagine a tie game or worse at the end of it all.

Giolito, however, held Gore close while taking control of the count. He threw to first four times before he threw home three times, and still got ahead 1-2 on Billy Hamilton. Gore took off on Giolito’s 1-2 changeup, but stumbled on his way to second. James McCann’s throw was on the first-base side of second, which conveniently took Jose Rondón toward Gore, who was ruled out of the basepath in his attempt to evade the tag.

Giolito then induced a groundout from Hamilton, and finished the inning by striking out Nicky Lopez on a masterful sequence. After Lopez swing over the top of Giolito’s final tumbling changeup, he pumped both fists downward in a flex while spinning off the mound.

Colomé, who dodged loud contact in the first game, pitched an easier 1-2-3 ninth this time, striking out Whit Merrifield and Gordon around a 3-unassisted from Adalberto Mondesi. Yonder Alonso gloved a tricky in-between hop to prevent another potential speed-related catastrophe.

While the White Sox might’ve loved a couple of big blasts to stick it to Keller, they had to settle for doinking him to death. They scored four runs on 12 hits, and all of them were singles.

Rondón had one of them to start the third inning, and he moved to third when Charlie Tilson’s grounder got past Lopez on the right side. Leury Garcia then muscled a high fastball just inside the left-field line to make it a 3-1 game. After Yoan Moncada walked to load the bases, Jose Abreu and Alonso cashed in a pair of runs with sac flies to tie the game.

The Sox took the lead an inning later with a minimum of pyrotechnics. McCann singled, then moved to second on Yolmer Sánchez’s groundout to first. Ryan O’Hearn didn’t try cutting down the lead runner, and it cost the Royals when Tilson delivered a two-out single to score McCann.

That was the last run Giolito and Colomé required, so the Sox offense won’t be kicking itself so much about the sixth inning. They had a golden opportunity to knock Keller from the game after McCann singled and moved to third on Sánchez’s single, during which Sánchez took second on the throw to third. Alas, Rondón and Tilson both grounded out firmly to third, and García popped out to left to end the threat.

The White Sox were an unremarkable 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but that’s often good enough when the opponents only get one chance in the clutch.

Bullet points:

*Giolito’s total of 26 swinging strikes is the most since Carlos Rodon did it in 2016.

*McCann went 5-for-8 in the doubleheader while catching both games.

*Giolito wasn’t the only one having problems on the mound at the start of the game. Get a load of the first pitch:

Record: 25-29 | Box score | Highlights

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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karkovice squad

Lucas Giolito said he didn’t realize it was a 6:40pm start. He didn’t come out onto the field until 6:24pm and didn’t get through his full warm-up. As such, the first inning was a little rough. The rest of the game, he was warmed up for it

— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 29, 2019

It's just the 7th time this season a pitcher has gotten more than 25 swinging strikes in a game. others to do it: Verlander, Cole, deGrom, Snell, Matt Boyd, Shane Bieber

— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) May 29, 2019

ndsoxfan

Really fun to watch Giolito dominate.  Wish he had some help in the rotation.

Also – such a White Sox thing for Anderson to hurt his wrist during a terrific season.  I expect he will come back slumping and we will be wondering in September if the wrist sapped his season or if it was regression 

soxfanpa

We don’t want him to waste away in this lineup.

If he signs an extension and can string together a couple more excellent seasons, maybe he can flipped for something like a top 5 and top 30 prospect.

mqr

…wat

Lurker Laura

Where were the KC Fun Police after Gio’s fist pump?

tommytwonines

One-run game in the eighth. 

There’s a game tonight. Moncada or Abreu in the first – Timmy sit out another game. 

iowasox1971

Very impressive start by Giolito. He didn’t lose focus after giving up the early three-run homer, and he picked up a well-deserved victory.
McCann was incredible again today, and he’s a huge reason Giolito is having so much success this year.
Today’s game shows how important it was to get Colome. In the past, our bullpen probably would have blown the game for Giolito. Fortunately, he was able to rack up another win and improve his all-star chances.
I’m probably in the minority here, but I still think pitching wins by starters are an important stat. To be eligible for a win, you usually have to outpitch the other team’s starter, you almost always have to go at least five innings and you must leave the game with your team in the lead. And the longer you pitch well, the less chance your bullpen has to lose the lead and your chance at a personal victory. So, wins do mean something.

Gutteridge70

You are not in a minority. Even a knowledgeable casual fan wants the starter to go beyond the 5 innings and 3 run “quality” start standard which seems to currently rule.

PopeDonnPall

Yoan, 8BB v. 42 K’s in his 29 games (two shortened games). He’s entered the top 10 list in MB for most K’s

tommytwonines

Moncada still a 1.4 WAR per Fangraphs and BREF. Playing a good third base.

 Funny aside – Chris Kamka was on Spiegel’s weekend baseball show a week-and-a-half into the season and was very impressed that Moncada had more extra-base hits than strikeouts – like it was sustainable!? Current count – 22 extra base hits and 65 strikeouts. 

knoxfire30

3.5 back in the wild card!!!!!!!

Great rebound by Gio, thats big time

Colome a win and a save also pretty cool.

Too bad management didnt add to this roster, getting the type of surprise season from McCann and then the breakout type seasons from Gio, TA7, and Yoan are basically what you need to happen to slip into contention a year or two early in a terrible division. Especially when your closer also hasnt blown a save.

I still think they are do some regression and more a slightly below 500 team then actual wildcard contender but watching a few guys turn the corner is encouraging.

gibby32

due