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Giolito dances to 12 K's, 2nd career shutout

White Sox righty limits first-place Twins to three hits
@scottmerkin
August 21, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lucas Giolito looked as if he was simply having fun as the White Sox starter dismantled the Twins -- one of baseball’s top offenses -- during a 4-0 victory Wednesday afternoon at Target Field. Giolito was moving and dancing around the dugout in-between innings, maintaining his focus but

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lucas Giolito looked as if he was simply having fun as the White Sox starter dismantled the Twins -- one of baseball’s top offenses -- during a 4-0 victory Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.

Giolito was moving and dancing around the dugout in-between innings, maintaining his focus but not losing his energy. He raised his hands in the air in celebration after center fielder Adam Engel made a lunging catch of Nelson Cruz's leadoff line drive in the seventh, battling back from a 3-0 deficit in the count.

Box score

When Max Kepler popped out for the second out of the sixth, Giolito pounded his glove and pointed toward catcher James McCann before third baseman Ryan Goins even made the catch. Life is good for Giolito, and why shouldn’t it be?

Wednesday’s victory marked Giolito’s third complete game this season -- just one example of his excellence.

“Two real ones,” said a smiling Giolito, pointing out he was credited with a complete game for a rain-shortened, five-inning effort on May 18 at home against the Blue Jays.

With his 12-strikeout, no-walk performance Wednesday, Giolito has fanned 36 over his past 21 innings. He became the first White Sox pitcher since Gary Peters in 1963 to go nine innings with no walks allowed and 12-plus strikeouts.

“I would say, certainly, that’s about as good of an effort as we faced all year long,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve faced some really good starting pitchers. He’s a good one, but he was on his game today.”

“The work I put in during the offseason, coming in and pitching with confidence every single time, I put myself in a good position to do something like that,” said Giolito, who threw 82 of his 115 pitches -- the most pitches he's thrown in his career -- for strikes. “This game in particular [being] the last game of the series, I really wanted to come out with my best stuff and give us the best chance to win.”

An early sign of Giolito’s dominance came three batters into the bottom of the first inning. Giolito struck out Cruz -- the same Cruz who launched three homers off Giolito when they last met in Chicago on July 25 -- on a 94.8 mph fastball in a 2-2 count. Most of Minnesota’s lineup had the same success, or lack thereof, as Cruz. He threw eight pitches in the fifth, nine in the sixth and 12 in the seventh, retiring 12 straight until Jonathan Schoop's one out-double in the eighth.

Minnesota managed only three hits, with one of them being a Jorge Polanco bunt single in the first. Giolito became the first White Sox starter with 11-plus strikeouts in three straight starts since Chris Sale did it from May 28 to June 19, 2015 (five consecutive). His nine road wins on the season are the most by a White Sox pitcher since Jon Garland was 12-4 in '06.

Jose Abreu drove in two runs, giving him 96 RBIs for the season. His three hits leave him three short of 1,000 for his career. The veteran first baseman has noticed a major difference in Giolito’s mound focus during this breakout 2019 season.

“He’s a very talented guy,” said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. “This year he has kept his focus on every pitch. He has worked at that.”

“His focus and his aggressiveness from pitch No. 1 was incredible,” McCann said. “Every single pitch, there was a focus to execute that pitch. There weren't many mistakes made, if any, today.”

Giolito’s performance marked the first shutout by a White Sox pitcher against Minnesota since Zach Stewart came within six outs of throwing a perfect game on Sept. 5, 2011, at Target Field in the second game of a doubleheader. He helped the White Sox achieve their first series win at Target Field since April 14-16, 2017, spreading his energy and enjoyment throughout the team.

“Why not be myself at all times and that’s usually dancing around, bouncing around, acting a little crazy sometimes,” Giolito said. “I like to stay with myself when I’m out there doing my thing.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.