Sox Reporter

Near-perfect Giolito leads Sox to win in Game 1 vs. A's

Sox Reporter

Now that's how you do a postseason debut.

Lucas Giolito was spectacular in his first career playoff game, throwing seven one-run innings, the first six of them perfect, while leading the White Sox to a 4-1 win in Game 1 of their AL Wild Card Series against the Oakland Athletics.

The White Sox seemed to have the edge in the starting-pitching department heading into this best-of-three series, with Giolito and Dallas Keuchel finishing the regular season as two of the best pitchers in the AL. Well, Giolito did his job and did it in excellent fashion, becoming the fifth pitcher ever to take a perfect game into the seventh inning of a postseason game.

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He lost the perfecto bid when A's infielder Tommy La Stella led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a sharp grounder up the middle. But he retired the next three hitters he faced. He returned for the bottom of the eighth, giving up a walk and a base hit before departing in favor of relief help. One of those runners scored, ending Giolito's scoreless effort.

All told, he pitched seven innings and struck out eight batters, giving up just one run and two hits and walking one.

Of course, he got some help from his offense, the White Sox bats perhaps on the verge of returning to their midseason form.

 

They smacked three home runs to drive in all four runs they scored on the game. Adam Engel homered in his first postseason plate appearance, the first White Sox player to ever do so, to put the team on the board in the second inning. MVP front-runner José Abreu hit a two-run homer an inning later. And Yasmani Grandal smacked a solo shot in the eighth.

The White Sox backed up the much discussed dominance they had against left-handed pitching during the regular season, scoring three of their four runs off A's starting pitcher Jesús Luzardo and pushing their 2020 record against southpaw starters to 15-0. Luzardo departed with one out in the fourth inning, forcing A's manager Bob Melvin to dip into his best-in-baseball bullpen relatively often over the remainder of the game, something that could prove important as this series moves into its second day Wednesday.

The White Sox didn't need nearly as many outs from their relief corps but showed off their own bullpen prowess. Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer teamed to finish off the eighth in relief of Giolito, and Alex Colomé shut things down in the ninth inning for the save.

Those combined efforts already, after just one playoff game, put the White Sox a win away from advancing to the next round. They'll send Keuchel against the A's on Wednesday, with Oakland countering with their best starting pitcher in former White Sox hurler Chris Bassitt, a right-hander.

Positive showings on the offensive side and on the mound should have the White Sox feeling good, considering questions abounded during and after their 2-8 finish to the regular season. But they've maintained a positive attitude throughout and a confidence that the stretch wouldn't impact what happened once the postseason began.

Now the only big question remaining is the health of Eloy Jiménez, that middle-of-the-order bat sidelined for Game 1. Whether he's able to start Game 2 in any capacity, be it in left field or as the designated hitter, will have to wait until Wednesday.

But Wednesday brings an opportunity for the White Sox to do something they haven't done since winning the World Series in 2005: win a playoff series.

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