Lucas Giolito faced the Minnesota Twins twice before his complete game shutout on Wednesday. Both times he went five innings. On June 30, he gave up one hit and no runs. On July 25, he gave up seven runs on seven hits.
On Wednesday he gave up three hits and struck out 12 batters.
“I knew the last one against that team I just came out flat, I was falling behind, I wasn’t executing my pitches,” said Giolito. “I know that when I get ahead, throw two, three pitches for strikes and show I can do that from the get-go, it’s probably going to be a good day. We did that from the start, just attack mode from the get-go — [a] lot of fastballs inside and I felt like I got better and better as the game went on.”
“He was tough,” said Rocco Baldelli. “He pounded the strike zone, but he also has elite stuff, too. He made it tough for us from the get-go. We weren’t really able to get much going off of him.”
Jake Odorizzi gave up two runs in the first inning, and four runs total in the loss. What could have been a pitcher’s duel between two All-Stars ended up being a 4-0 victory for the Chicago White Sox, who took two of three from the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
“From an execution standpoint, a lot of the hits were balls out of the zone or balls that were [hit] in the right spot, whatever it may be,” said Odorizzi.
“The results kind of suck, but if you sit back and watch the game from a pitcher’s standpoint, today I might have had the most weak contact I had all season, and the results weren’t there to go with it. But that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Giolito, 24, has pitched well in his fourth major-league season. Received in the Adam Eaton trade with the Washington Nationals in December of 2016, he pitched well in three starts immediately after the trade, but had a 6.13 ERA (70 ERA+) in 32 starts last year.
This has been a breakout year for him, and his performance Wednesday against the Bombas was a signature moment this season.
“If you ask me last year, say you’d throw two complete-game shutouts next season I don’t know if I would have believed it,” he said. “This game in particular, having the last game of the series, I don’t know the last time we’ve won a series against the Twins (April 14-16, 2017), I really wanted to come out with my best stuff and give us the best chance to win.”
For the Twins, this series was a missed opportunity. Following their four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, they had 13 straight games against the White Sox and Detroit Tigers — two sub-.500 AL Central teams. The Cleveland Indians erased their 11.5-game deficit in the Central by beating up on the White Sox, Tigers and Kansas City Royals.
If Minnesota wants to create a buffer between themselves and Cleveland, they need to pick up wins in this stretch. But even the White Sox, 57-69, can win a game where they get ahead early and Giolito is on the mound.