For five innings, it appeared Casey Mize would get his revenge against the White Sox on Friday night. After the South Siders spoiled Mize’s MLB debut in August, he pitched five no-hit innings and generally looked untouchable by mixing a good four-seam fastball with his devastating splitter.
“His location was better than the first time,” Eloy Jiménez said when evaluating the difference between Mize’s first start against the White Sox and Friday night’s performance. “He got the credit. But after we figured it out, we just tried not to do too much… and we tried to have good at-bats. But he was throwing the ball well, and where he was supposed to be throwing.”
But the White Sox got the last laugh, stringing together a walk, a double and a fielder’s choice to scratch across a run and chase Mize out of the game. Two batters later, a Jiménez three-run bomb gave the Sox the lead for good, and erased Mize’s hopes of earning his first major league win. Oh, and it ensured the White Sox would remain alone atop the division, too.
Despite the final result, Mize outpitched Lucas Giolito, who ran into control issues of his own in the top half of the sixth inning. But before things unraveled for both pitchers the night seemed like a preview of many excellent duels to come between Mize and Giolito.
“I was throwing well, I mean we were through five, scoreless,” Giolito said. “I just want to keep doing my thing, but unfortunately that sixth inning got a little away from me… You know I should be able to just rein it back in and do my job, throw some competitive pitches, but it kind of got away from me there.
“Yeah, I was sweating a lot. I’m sure you guys saw it on TV… That’s just the adrenaline getting up, a long inning.”
Could that have had anything to do with the fact that Mize had held the White Sox hitless up to that point? Giolito said no.
“I was aware of it, but at the same time the way I approach it is, I’m going to do my job and let the offense do their job,” Giolito said.
“I think the thing is next time, just having a more neutral reaction (to giving up a hit to start the sixth inning), and just focus on the next pitch and execute.”
Again, Friday’s game could be a blueprint of how Giolito and Mize, and the White Sox and Tigers, battle for years to come. Sure, Detroit isn’t a contender in 2020, but if Mize develops into the pitcher he’s projected to be, the Tigers will have a great chance to win every time he takes the mound. Their offense hasn't been as bad as expected, either. Consider this: heading into Friday’s action, the Tigers had only scored one fewer run than the Twins, while playing two fewer games.
With highly-touted hitting prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene waiting in the wings, the Tigers could be a couple of free agent signings or trades away from making the A.L. Central a legitimate four-way fight in the future.
But for now score the fight White Sox: 2, Casey Mize: 0.