White Sox 2, Twins 1: A winning Lucas Giolito reboot

The straightest path to White Sox respectability is a classic Lucas Giolito start, and after all the drama of the previous 24 hours, he managed to quiet the discourse by quieting Minnesota’s bats.

The White Sox bats weren’t much louder, but they scratched single runs across in two innings, whereas Giolito limited the damage to one Nelson Cruz homer over eight. It wasn’t exactly the relaxing afternoon Sox fans yearned for after a miserable Tuesday night, but despite all the sturm und drang, everybody accomplished the goal of leaving Minnesota with the Twins in worse shape than before.

Giolito had last delivered a quality start on April 13, although he was denied one against Detroit when Tony La Russa stuck with him during an unwise seventh. But even that start paled in comparison to the one he threw this afternoon. He set a season high with 11 strikeouts over eight innings, allowing just two hits to Cruz and three walks elsewhere. His pitch count of 111 was front-loaded, as he sprayed his fastball early before settling in with all three pitches.

His changeup is back to carrying the day. He threw it more than his fastball, getting 13 whiffs on 46 pitches, and soft contact the six times it was put into play.

The fastball held him back early, as he walked the leadoff batter in each of his first two innings and needed 20 pitches to escape each. He then piped one to Cruz in the third, and Cruz lined it out to center field for his 10th homer of the year.

Despite the homer, Giolito only threw 12 pitches in that third inning, which was more like it. He needed only 58 pitches from that inning through the seventh, so when La Russa asked him to go out for the eighth, it wasn’t as unreasonable as previous long leashes. He recorded his 11th strikeout by fanning Kyle Garlick, then got a routine groundout from a pinch-hitting Josh Donaldson, and a soft lineout from Luis Arraez.

Liam Hendriks handled the ninth with ease, mostly because he had a breaking ball for once. Hendriks threw more secondary pitches (three sliders, two curves) than fastballs (four) and got a whiff on each one. He struck out two during his perfect inning.

The pitchers made the most of an underwhelming showing by the White Sox offense, which made Matt Shoemaker look better than the guy who had a 6.62 ERA coming into the start. They once again drew their share of walks (four over six innings), but the balls in play mostly stayed on the ground.

To put a positive spin on Shoemaker’s success, if he had greater troubles, perhaps the White Sox wouldn’t have gotten a crack at him in the second half of the game. They scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings before being retired in order by three Minnesota relievers, so an earlier bullpen sighting may not have been what they wanted.

Leury García was prominently involved in both innings. He led off the fifth with a double before scoring with some very small ball. Danny Mendick bunted him to third, and while a Tim Anderson groundout couldn’t get him home, Adam Eaton’s grounder to the left side got the job done by a fraction of a second. It was hit softly enough, and forced Jorge Polanco to range enough, that his throw from short wasn’t in time despite Miguel Sanó’s best stretch. That tied the game at 1.

An inning later, Jake Lamb led off the sixth with a double, then moved to third on Andrew Vaughn’s groundout to short (Polanco might have had a shot at the lead runner, but he never looked). Zack Collins walked to bring García to the plate, and García shot an opposite-field drive off the base of the wall in left. It was only good for a long single, but it still held up as the winning margin.

Bullet points:

*Vaughn did his best impression of José Abreu by starting a slick 3-6-3 double play to erase Giolito’s third and final leadoff walk in the sixth.

*Yoán Moncada reached on a single and two walks, raising his OBP to .407.

*Tim Anderson and Yermín Mercedes went 0-for-9, so neither finished the series the way they’d hoped.

*The Twins are now 0-4-1 in their last five series.

Record: 26-16 | Box score | Statcast

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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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roke1960

That was a very good win overall. Our ace displayed ace stuff, our closer was brilliant, the defense was solid. Yes, they only scored two runs, but they really haven’t won many games like this so far this year, so it was nice to see them win a nailbiter. 10-3 in the last 13 against the Twins/Royals really gives them some separation in the division. Now if the drama would just stop and the team can continue to have fun- but with Tony there that may not be possible.

dwjm3

I’m not sure it was very sportsmanlike of Giolito to strike out all of those Twins

roke1960

I wonder if Tony will apologize to the Twins for Lucas showing up the Twins hitters.

joewho112

I wonder how many strike outs Hendriks had

He struck out two during his perfect inning striking out two.

jhomeslice

I wasn’t worried about Lucas but still, nice to have a truly dominant performance after a few ups and downs. His stuff has been better than his ERA even before today, but today he showed that he has not lost anything as far as stuff goes.

Now for the Yankees, their first real test.

tommytwonines

The Yankees, who are a game-and-a-half behind the Red Sox. Gotcha.

jhomeslice

I don’t think there will wind up being much comparison between the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of which team is more of an obstacle for the White Sox in October. Boston does not have a starting pitcher anywhere near Cole’s level. He is not only very good and very experienced in the post season, but right handed. As is Kluber, who threw the no-no tonight and is looking much more like his old self. Boston has some very good hitters but does not have the pitching to pose a problem for us, or win the East, I don’t think. All roads to the World Series for the Sox will likely go through New York.

So yes, the Yankees who are 1 1/2 games behind Boston! : )

burning-phoneix

The Yankees are fourth in the AL East but that’s because the AL East is stacked. They got a very good 24-19 record coming in.

jhomeslice

Yeah, and if they come together and are healthy, they have the most talent in that division by far. Kluber may wind up being one of the biggest offseason additions that nobody was paying close attention to. I was afraid of that, wished he would have gone somewhere else. Wish he and/or Cole were left handed!

calcetinesblancos

I love this version of Moncada.

Foulkelore

Wow, there was another no hitter tonight. I’m sure glad Rodon threw his before they stopped being special.

burning-phoneix

I hope Abreu comes back sooner rather than later. 2 run offense against Matt Shoemaker is showing the cracks with Eloy and Luis gone and will be more the norm than tagging the twins with 16 runs, really needs the bullpen to step up because games will be a lot closer now.

Also, Lamb’s season wRC+ has risen to 116.