Giolito on career-high 7 walks: 'It's unacceptable'

White Sox right-hander can't escape pivotal 4-run 4th after fanning the side in the 1st

May 26th, 2023

DETROIT -- White Sox starter walked off the mound during the bottom of the fourth inning on Thursday, put a hand on top of his head and blew out a frustrated breath.

A slider that just didn’t slide was to blame.

Seven walks, four earned runs and only 3 2/3 frames after he’d taken the hill to start the series opener against the Tigers at Comerica Park, Giolito removed his hat, took a seat on the bench and watched Chicago’s bullpen take over.

“It was just one of those games,” manager Pedro Grifol said following his team’s 7-2 loss, “and we’ve got to move on.”

Despite obvious control issues that saw him tie a career high in walks in a start, Giolito avoided more damage thanks to timely double plays in the second and third innings.

Detroit opened the second with consecutive singles before Giolito coaxed Miguel Cabrera into a 4-6-3 double play. That time, a walk placed runners at the corners before a groundout ended the threat.

All three outs in that frame came off Giolito’s slider, but he still couldn’t quite harness it when needed. The right-hander walked three more Tigers in the third, but again, he escaped trouble when a bases-loaded lineout allowed second baseman Romy González to catch Riley Greene off of second for a two-for-one inning-ender.

Eventually, though, the walks came back to bite Giolito, whose luck ran out in the fourth. He began the frame by allowing a leadoff home run, a four-pitch walk and a double. A groundout, another walk and a pitch-timer violation made way for a two-run single that prompted a mound visit from pitching coach Ethan Katz.

After Giolito’s hard-fought strikeout of Greene, who took him to a full count all three times the two faced off, a line-drive single pushed the Tigers’ lead to 4-1 and ended Giolito’s outing.

"We forced him into the zone, and he couldn't find it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think the bigger the moments became, the more disciplined we became, which is a good characteristic if we can continue to do that."

Chicago’s bullpen worked the final 4 1/3 innings with mixed results as well.

Gregory Santos struck out three during 1 1/3 hitless frames in Giolito’s wake, hitting triple digits on the radar gun with six pitches and topping out at 101.1 mph. Garrett Crochet issued a career-high four walks after Santos, but Crochet allowed just one run, and Aaron Bummer walked none, but he allowed two runs in the eighth.

Entering play on Thursday, the White Sox relief corps had a combined 0.91 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP over its previous 10 games (29 2/3 innings).

“I never thought that I’d be walking seven guys in a game,” Giolito said. “It’s unacceptable. Team’s going good, you want to set the series off on the right start. [I] did that in the first inning, but I lost feel and I didn’t get it back.”

There will be no time wasted on concern over one blip on the radar, particularly from Giolito or his rotation mates, who entered the series with a combined eight quality starts, a 1.86 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in their previous nine games.

Giolito -- who helped those numbers along with a 2.84 ERA in his previous five starts -- had 19 punchouts against just three walks in his three prior turns.

He blazed through the first inning on Thursday, too, opening with six consecutive strikes that led to two swinging strikeouts. After he walked Greene, Giolito settled back in to ring up Spencer Torkelson swinging as well.

Indeed, all things pointed toward another sterling night from a White Sox hurler … until they didn’t.

Still, Chicago was 7-3 in its past 10 games when the team landed in Detroit, and as much as Giolito’s off night irritated the pitcher, if the South Siders can flush this one and take three from the Tigers, they’ll still win their fourth consecutive series, a far cry from how they began the season.

“We’ve been doing a fantastic job until I screwed that up today,” Giolito said. “[I have] nothing but amazing things to say about the whole group, what guys have been working through behind the scenes and then coming out and really just doing such a nice job setting the tone -- and pitching deep into games and helping our bullpen out.

“I’ll get back on that track next time around.”