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Giolito sets White Sox mark with 8 straight K's

Right-hander falls one shy of AL record in finale loss to Royals
@scottmerkin
September 12, 2019

CHICAGO -- There have been more dominant Lucas Giolito starts from first pitch to last during his All-Star campaign this season than the six innings he threw during the White Sox 6-3 loss to the Royals on Thursday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. But from the third to the fifth

CHICAGO -- There have been more dominant Lucas Giolito starts from first pitch to last during his All-Star campaign this season than the six innings he threw during the White Sox 6-3 loss to the Royals on Thursday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But from the third to the fifth inning, Giolito literally was unhittable. He set a White Sox record by striking out eight straight Royals, with seven being swinging strikeouts and Meibrys Viloria caught looking.

Box score

Giolito needed a mere 34 pitches for the eight strikeouts, using the four-seam fastball five times to finish off at-bats, the changeup twice and the slider against Hunter Dozier.

“I was in a groove, just pretty much like fully confident in every pitch I was throwing. Like I knew the result before I threw the pitch, that kind of feeling,” Giolito said. “When you have that feeling as a pitcher, you want to ride it out as long as you can.”

“The middle innings for him, that's as dominant as he's been all season,” catcher James McCann said. “That's pretty impressive considering how good a year he's had.”

This strikeout run started with Whit Merrifield to open the third and ended with Nicky Lopez grounding out to shortstop Tim Anderson to end the fifth. Giolito finished with 12 strikeouts overall, giving him six double-digit strikeout games this season, seven for his career and 228 strikeouts in 2019, ranking as the seventh-highest single-season total in franchise history.

Carlos Rodon (Sept. 30, 2016, against the Twins) and Joe Cowley (May 28, 1986, at the Rangers) previously shared the White Sox consecutive strikeout mark at seven. According to STATS, Giolito’s eight straight tied for the seventh-longest single-game MLB run and was one shy of the AL record held by Doug Fister (nine against the Royals on Sept. 27, 2012). Hall of Famer Tom Seaver holds the record at 10 (April 22, 1970, against the Padres).

Royals manager Ned Yost was impressed not only by Giolito’s effort in the season finale between these teams, but by the right-hander’s entire 2019 transformation.

“He struck out the side in the third and fourth, and almost the fifth,” Yost said. “I stood up and screamed like we hit a game-winning homer when we just grounded out.

“I didn’t want to see nine consecutive strikeouts. Giolito has been tough on us all year long. The improvements he has made has been impressive. His development as a pitcher is probably the most impressive thing I’ve seen all year long.”

But even with all this strikeout success, Giolito still fell to 0-5 over his last seven home starts. His only walk was issued to Merrifield opening the sixth in a 2-2 tie, followed by a bloop single from Jorge Soler, who hit his 44th homer in the first. Dozier connected on the next pitch for the go-ahead three-run blast.

Although he was pleased by the strikeout record, Giolito pointed out postgame it came in a loss and “that’s all that matters in the end.”

“That loss today is on me,” Giolito said. “I need to be better coming out strong, and I need to be better finishing, executing pitches, especially when I need to against the good guys in their lineups.”

“He's a heck of a pitcher. He's been tough on us all year,” Dozier said. “I was just trying to slow it down, get back to my approach, and I just reacted on a ball in and put a good swing on it.”

Daniel Palka, whose season totals dipped to 1-for-56 with two outs in his first two at-bats, doubled his hit total with an infield single in the sixth. That hit ended an 0-for-21 drought. Anderson’s two hits raised his American League-leading average to .333, while Jose Abreu’s fifth inning sacrifice fly moved his AL-best RBI total to 115.

The White Sox finished 9-10 against the Royals this season, dropping their overall record to 64-82. It’s the seventh straight season in which the rebuilding club will finish below .500 (it went 85-77 in 2012). Chicago has only topped .500 three times since finishing 90-72 in 2006.

Manager Rick Renteria believes that success rate will soon change, with Giolito being a core piece of that turnaround.

“I’m expecting that this is it. We are trying to win,” Renteria said. “We talk about it; we are going through it. I know there’s still refining to do, but I’ll be honest with you. We are finishing this season, we are talking about coming into next season ready to battle, period, exclamation point. That’s what we are looking to do.”

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