Sitting in a right field suite for Game 6 of the World Series, White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito brimmed with happiness for his former high school teammate, as Max Fried quieted the Astros crowd.
At the same time, Giolito felt a pang of jealousy.
“A dream come true for him,” Giolito said of Fried, “and very motivating for me.”
About a decade after they all played together at Harvard-Westlake High School, Giolito and Jack Flaherty made their way to Minute Maid Park this week to cheer on Fried as he and the Braves won the World Series.
“We're all very close, me, Jack, Max,” Giolito said Thursday. “And we support each other over the course of the season, through texting and stuff like that, checking out each other's games and talking about pitching and whatnot. If one of us makes it to the biggest of stages, it's just assumed the other two are going to do whatever we can to be out there to support. I'm super happy we were able to get out there and see it live.”
Giolito had originally planned on attending Game 2, Fried’s first start of the series. Game 6 wasn’t guaranteed. But Giolito had a breakthrough case of COVID-19, he reveled Thursday. He had mild symptoms, which he attributed to the effectiveness of the vaccine – “I highly recommend it,” he added.
The timing worked out. Giolito’s quarantine period ended before Game 6. And Fried bounced back from giving up six runs in Game 2, to throwing six shutout innings in the World Series clincher.
Giolito felt the energy in the stands deflate as Fried retired 17 straight batters.
“That’s one of my favorite things as a pitcher on the road,” Giolito said, “is seeing the whole place shut up.”
Giolito didn’t get that feeling four weeks ago when he’d stood on the same mound. In his only start of the postseason, Giolito allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings. The orange rally towels waved frantically with each Astros rally, as Houston went up two games to none in the American League Division Series.
“My playoff start didn't go well,” Giolito said. “That series for us didn't go well.”
Giolito’s disappointing outing was actually the deepest start the White Sox got from its rotation in the series. Houston ended Chicago’s postseason run in just four games.
“I think that we got some valuable experience there,” Giolito said. “We definitely did not perform how we wanted to, so that was a letdown, but that’s just more motivation. I think that every single guy that was part of that postseason run for us learned something, and it’s something that’s going to continue to drive us and make us hungrier for more.”
Giolito was back in Houston this week to support Fried. But as he soaked in the World Series atmosphere, another thought kept creeping into his mind:
“I really want to be here at this stage.”