In what may have been his most important start in a White Sox uniform, Lucas Giolito delivered a gem.
A day after fellow starter Carlos Rodón said "it's time for us to do our job,” Giolito did exactly that, pitching six scoreless innings against the Indians Wednesday. That was enough for the White Sox to end a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 win against the Indians at Progressive Field.
"It was a must-win game for us," Giolito said, adding that he embraced the opportunity to pitch in such an important game.
The changeup was particularly devastating Wednesday night in Cleveland and it’s a pitch Giolito usually unleashes on the Indians. In fact, Giolito has held the Indians scoreless in three straight starts going back to 2019. That includes 20.2 innings of work.
Beyond the obvious need for a victory, the White Sox badly needed to see this type of outing from their ace, who allowed seven earned runs on Opening Day against the Twins. A starting rotation that struggled the first time around can now breathe a little easier.
Finally, a clutch hit
After leaving 16 runners on base in Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Indians, the White Sox again had trouble getting a clutch hit Wednesday night. Indians starter Zach Plesac had really good stuff, but the White Sox wasted a golden opportunity in the third inning with two runners in scoring position when Yoán Moncada popped out to third on the first pitch.
The White Sox also got a leadoff double from Adam Engel in the sixth, but Tim Anderson, Moncada and Jose Abreu failed to get him in.
It was one of those games in which the opposing starter deserves the credit, but the White Sox nearly wasted a great outing from Giolito before pulling out the win in the ninth. Even in the ninth, it was a struggle as the first two runs came via sacrifice flies by Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jiménez, before Luis Robert delivered a huge two-run single.
Robert now has at least one hit in each of his first six Major League Baseball games, doing nothing to slow down the Rookie of the Year hype.
General manager Rick Hahn had to access the traveling taxi squad for the first time Wednesday, promoting pitcher Matt Foster to the 30-man roster after rookie Jimmy Lambert was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain.
Foster is a great story as he is a former 20th round draft pick in 2016 who has grinded his way up the Major Leagues. And since Wednesday was the night of the changeup, it’s notable that that is the pitch that got Foster here.
“When I first got drafted, I didn’t throw it a lot,” Foster said. “Over the last couple of seasons, I’ve really developed it. I’ve used it as an out pitch sometimes. The slider the last couple of years has kind of been on and off, but the changeup has gotten progressively better.”
With strict COVID-19 restrictions in place, teams are permitted to travel three extra players on the road in case transactions need to be made. That allows those players to be cleared and ready to play instead of having to go through days’ worth of testing to get cleared. Foster and catcher Yermin Mercedes were the only two taxi squad players who made the trip to Cleveland.