They were All Stars together last season. And that was pretty cool.
But this summer Tuesday was better.
Lucas Giolito and James McCann teamed to complete the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not bad for the pitcher who posted the worst numbers in baseball during the 2018 season and the catcher who got non-tendered by the rebuilding Detroit Tigers.
“We both had a down 2018. People wrote him off, people wrote me off,” McCann said after the game. “And then all of a sudden, we're both All Stars together in 2019.
“We talked about it tonight. As special as that 2019 All-Star Game was with him and (José) Abreu, tonight is on another level. Tonight's something that I'll never forget, something he'll never forget.
“There is a bond to proving people wrong, continuing to work and continuing to prove people wrong.”
Giolito and McCann established that special kind of working relationship last season, when both transformed their games and turned their careers around with exceptional 2019 campaigns. As Giolito rose from long-term mystery to the ace of the South Side staff, he heaped credit on McCann for helping him along the way.
The White Sox might have handed the richest free-agent contract in franchise history to Yasmani Grandal, a catcher, in the offseason, envisioning him catching Giolito’s biggest games for years to come. But with McCann still under contract for 2020, he was the one who got to serve as the backstop Tuesday when the pitcher he built such a connection with a year ago did something incredible.
“I think that Lucas is an unbelievable pitcher and I think he has great stuff, and I think our relationship just kind of takes it to the next level,” McCann said. “He's really bought into how I call a game and how I manage a game, and it's worked. He trusts me, I trust him.
“It's just kind of one of those things, that trust that we've had, I don't know if I've ever had that with another pitcher in my career.”
The two were humming at maximum potency Tuesday. The Pirates looked lost from the start, and Giolito and McCann took full advantage, mowing them down in dominant fashion.
Giolito said he knew he was in top form early. He knew he had a shot at something special later on. But when it came to working with McCann, it was business as usual.
“It felt like a typical outing,” Giolito said. “I'm up there on the mound, I'm letting him do all the thinking, letting him read the hitters. … It was one of those nights where we were really in sync.
“Obviously, the relationship we have on and off the field is stupendous. I mean, I can't say enough good things about him. He was such a huge part of what happened tonight.”
But, of course, even for a pitcher as talented and with as much promise as Giolito, a no-hitter is anything but typical. And while McCann has worked with some all-time great pitchers in his career, he’d never got all the way to the end before.
“This is my first no-hitter,” McCann said. “I've gotten very close. I had gotten to 8.1 (innings) with (Justin) Verlander at one point in Detroit. Getting this no-hitter with Lucas at this point in my career, it's a memory I'll never forget. I don't have words to really describe it.
“Just where I'm at my career and doing it with a guy like Lucas that I have such a special connection with, it's something where I don't even know what to say. It's pretty special.”
Who knows what the future holds for McCann, who is slated to hit free agency at the end of the season. The White Sox have Grandal locked up through 2023, likely preventing the White Sox from giving McCann the playing time or money of a starting catcher that he’s earned in his two years on the South Side. That could mean he'd go searching for those things elsewhere.
But for the time being, for the remainder of this most unusual 2020 campaign, McCann is with the White Sox, meaning he’ll be able to continue building on that “special connection” with Giolito.
It’s tough to envision something topping Tuesday night. But there is one way for that to happen.
“We get lost in history tonight with a no-hitter. But if you look at what our team is doing as a whole, we're on pace to have a pretty darn good 60-game season,” McCann said. “And as fun as tonight was, as much as I'm going to relive tonight for, really, the rest of my life, tomorrow's a new day and we have to get back to work and continue to grow and continue to mature as a team to get to the ultimate goal.
“And that's the playoffs and then the World Series.”