Sox Reporter

Sox ace Giolito explains uncharacteristic shelling at Fenway

Sox Reporter

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Lucas Giolito.

Those don't happen too much anymore, not since Giolito turned his career around following a 2018 season that saw him finish the year as the worst statistical pitcher in baseball. Since, he's been to an All-Star Game, thrown a no-hitter and taken a perfect game into the seventh inning of his first playoff start.

Giolito is undoubtedly the White Sox ace. But Monday morning, he turned in a clunker.

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"I lost us a game in the first inning," Giolito said. "So it's not a good feeling. The pitcher I am, what I'm capable of doing, to go out and do that is not doing my job."

It was an 11-4 defeat for the White Sox in the finale of their series against the Boston Red Sox, and indeed, things did seem decided after a disastrous, 46-pitch opening frame. Enrique Hernández started with a leadoff home run that just cleared the Green Monster, the first of six straight Red Sox hits against Giolito. The home team sent 11 men to the plate in the opening inning, scoring six runs.

Then Giolito's first pitch of the second inning was hit for a home run by J.D. Martinez, and he was out of the game not long after. When the book on him closed, he had given up eight runs, seven of them earned.

 

It was pretty much a laugher from there, the White Sox ending up calling on position players Yermín Mercedes and Danny Mendick to pitch in the final two innings.

"What I hate to see is I blew it early to the point where we have two positions players going out having to pitch, which should never happen," Giolito said. "It is what it is, it’s over now, and I get prepared for my next start and go out and do my thing then."

So what happened?

While a decent portion of the explanation involves regular old bad luck in a sport where even the best have their failing moments, Giolito specifically pointed to his best pitch, his changeup, as being a culprit Monday.

"The big thing for me was I was leaving my changeup up and it didn't have good action, based on the replays and stuff I saw," he said. "They didn't miss them.

"I need to throw better changeups. This is the worst it’s been in a long time. I haven’t broken anything down, these are my first thoughts but I was just not finishing the pitch, and making it hittable."

Giolito's changeup, as well as his other pitchers, frequently flummox opposing hitters. Just dial your memory back one start to his duel against Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber, when he shut out the division rivals for seven innings, striking out eight.

Monday, not so much. "Hittable" is an apt description, as the Red Sox banged out eight hits, including a pair of homers. Throw in a couple of walks and zero strikeouts — just the third time in his big league career that Giolito's gone without a strikeout and the first time since May of that 2018 season — and it was an absolutely nasty day at the yard.

"I think they had a solid approach against me, and I pitched right into it," he said. "And they didn't miss."

As upset as Giolito was, this kind of thing is not unheard of. While expectations can be huge, particularly in a season where the White Sox are thinking about a World Series championship, not every start can be a gem. It's an unsatisfying reality, perhaps, for fans watching on a daily basis. But to a degree, that's baseball.

"Well we know how good he is," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "Days like that happen. Sometimes you get away with a couple line drives at people and then you get sharper. But those straight hits early, it just wasn't his day.

"He gave us what he had for the day, and we'll look forward to next time. It happens to pitchers, to the best of them."

And certainly Giolito is one of the best.

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