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After the burly big-guy pitcher’s duel on Monday between Lance Lynn and Alek Manoah, Wednesday’s matchup featuring Lucas Giolito and Robbie Ray on paper looked to be another low-scoring affair. Ray struck out 13 White Sox hitters earlier this season, but the Blue Jays lost 6-1 as the bullpen failed them. According to Baseball-Reference, Ray already reached the 5.0 WAR tier thanks to an impressive 2.79 ERA and 178 strikeouts to just 36 walks.
Giolito has found his groove thanks to the slider taking a big step forward in development. Since the All-Star Break, Giolito has been one of the best starting pitchers in the American League.
It was a rapid first two innings. Giolito allowed a ground-rule double to Marcus Semien but stranded him at third base in the first inning. Ray saw Luis Robert hit a deep fly ball to left field, but it died on the warning track. Leury Garcia hit a leadoff single against Ray in the third inning and had to get himself to third base with stolen bases. Both Seby Zavala and Tim Anderson struck out, leaving it up to Yoan Moncada with two outs.
On a 2-2 inside fastball, Moncada was strong enough to hit a flare single to right field. Garcia scored, and the White Sox struck first, leading 1-0.
That lead held up until the fourth inning. Vlad Guerrero Jr. singled, and with two outs, Corey Dickerson jumped on a first-pitch slider. Guerrero Jr. scored from first base on Dickerson’s RBI triple. Giolito stranded Dickerson at third, and after four innings, both teams had one run on three hits.
White Sox had an opportunity to take the lead in the sixth inning. Ray issued the first walk by giving Jose Abreu a free pass. Next was Eloy Jimenez, and Ray hit him in the toe on a slider. A painful way to reach, but two runners were on for Robert. Ray got Robert to whiff on a low slider after fouling off a couple of pitches up in the zone. After six innings, Ray had a dozen strikeouts while only allowing three hits, one walk, and one hit by pitch.
Giolito also faced a similar situation that Ray did in the bottom half. Against Guerrero Jr., Giolito issued his first walk. Dickerson reached on an infield single that Cesar Hernandez could make a sliding stop but opted to make a toss to second base instead of first base. The toss was late, and Giolito had runners on first and second with two outs. Alejandro Kirk was next to bat and hit a screaming line drive at Anderson, who couldn’t handle it. However, Kirk thought Anderson made the catch and didn’t run out of the box immediately. Anderson made the throw to Abreu at first base, who applied the tag on Kirk to end the jam.
After six innings, both Ray and Giolito threw 93 pitches. Ray had 63 strikes that resulted in 12 strikeouts. Giolito had 61 strikes with six strikeouts.
Ray went out for the seventh inning, and again, the White Sox were able to get two runners on base. Hernandez reached on an infield single, and Garcia picked up his second hit with a single to right field. As the pitch count was well above 100, Ray punched out Zavala and threw three sliders to Anderson for his 14th strikeout. On 111 pitches, Ray went 7 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 14 K 1 HBP. A type of performance to solidify Ray’s standing in the AL Cy Young race.
Meanwhile, Giolito’s night was done as Tony La Russa went to Ryan Tepera in the seventh inning. Giolito’s final line was 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K as his season ERA drops to 3.68. Tepera racked up two strikeouts but got into a good battle with Bo Bichette after walking Santiago Espinal. On his 20th pitch and sixth of the at-bat, Tepera got Bichette to hit a harmless infield pop out.
Tim Mayza entered the game for Toronto in the eighth. First to face Mayza was Moncada, but on an 0-1 pitch, the White Sox third baseman winced in pain, fouling off a fastball. Mayza would punch out Moncada looking on the very next pitch. Abreu didn’t fare better. After missing on a center-cut fastball, Abreu also struck out looking. Only Jimenez put a ball in play against Mayza, but it was a broken-bat ground out to the shortstop.
With Semien, Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez due to bat, La Russa tasked Aaron Bummer with the eighth inning. After getting ahead 0-2, Bummer threw three straight balls to Semien before the Blue Jays second baseman whiffed on a lower sinker. Then Bummer was a benefactor of a call going his way. On his 3-1 sinker, it appeared to drop low out of the zone, and Guerrero Jr. flipped his bat thinking he drew a walk. Instead, it was called a strike, and after fouling off a pitch, Guerrero Jr. struck out looking on an inside sinker.
Just like with Semien and Guerrero Jr., Bummer got into a full count against Hernandez. Hernandez went to right field on a middle-middle sinker for a single that Garcia scooped on one bounce. On replay, it appeared that Garcia was thinking about diving to make the catch but changed his mind and could still field it. A risky play as if the ball bounced past Garcia, Hernandez would have stretched the hit to extra bases, if not an inside-the-park home run.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo pinch-hit Dickerson for Breyvic Valera, who singled to right field, putting additional pressure on Bummer. After getting two tough outs, Bummer allowed two singles. To complete the “Aaron Bummer Experience,” Kirk followed up with a single to center field driving in the go-ahead run.
For some reason, Jose Ruiz replaced Bummer. Now, Ruiz should have gotten out of the inning when Lourdes Gurriel’s grounder went under Moncada’s glove. Anderson saved the play, preventing another run from scoring, but the costly error loaded the bases. Next was Randal Grichuk, and Ruiz proceeded to walk him on four straight pitches. Another run and the Blue Jays were up 3-1.
Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano took the ball in the ninth inning and was greeted by a leadoff single from Robert. With Vaughn at the plate, Romano often struggled with his command missing up and out of the zone. Up 3-1 in the count, Vaughn chased a high fastball that would have been Ball 4. Then he fouled off an outside fastball that would have been Ball 4. On a center-cut fastball, Vaughn fouled that pitch off to the backstop. Romano finally went to the slider, and Vaughn was grounded into the 6-4-3 double play.
Hernandez flew out to the center field, ending the game. A terrific pitcher’s duel decided on the White Sox issues in the eighth inning. Again.
- Yoan Moncada’s hitting streak is now at 12 games
- Every White Sox hitter struck out at least once