DETROIT -- Through five hitters, White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito looked to have perfect game-type stuff against a Tigers squad that exited Monday’s series opener at Comerica Park with a 32-76 record.
Giolito wasn’t perfect, and actually wasn’t as sharp as he’s oftentimes been during this All-Star season. But the right-hander still managed to pitch well enough to end a personal three-game and five-start losing streak covering the entire month of July in the White Sox 7-4 victory. The White Sox improved to 3-1 on this seven-game road trip and pushed their overall mark to 49-61, with a 7-17 record in the second half.
After retiring the first five batters with three strikeouts in the mix, Giolito allowed one run each in the second, third and sixth innings. He struck out Jordy Mercer with runners on first and second to end the second, retired Harold Castro on a double play Giolito started himself with runners on first and third and one out in the third, then induced the same inning-ending double play in the same first-and-third, one-out situation against Miguel Cabrera in the fifth.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today, that was pretty clear,” Giolito said. “Kind of similar to my one maybe two outings ago. Slider wasn’t really consistent. Fastball command all over the place. Just one of those ones where you really grind through it.
“My biggest regret from the outing was just not having better focus on executing in certain situations, like really focusing pitch to pitch. I think that’s getting a little frustrating with giving up the hits, especially the 0-2 and 1-2 hits. But at the end of the day it’s a W. We won, I get the win. I’ll take that.”
Giolito struck out eight, including five with the changeup, over six innings and 107 pitches. He recorded 18 swinging strikes, per Statcast, 12 off the change.
The changeup has been a strong pitch all season for Giolito. But with the slider not really there for him Monday, catcher James McCann and the hurler made a decision to ride fastball/changeup for much of the outing.
“We saw that the slider was inconsistent. I was leaving it up in the zone a lot,” Giolito said. “The changeups I was executing, I was getting swings and misses almost every time. If I’m throwing my changeup well, then I can kind of become that two-pitch type of guy and it will still work out. It did for the most part.”
“As [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] said, he probably had his 'B' stuff tonight,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Giolito. “But he made the best of it. He continued to use his fastball, and the changeup was actually very effective. He battled through some traffic.”
Three runs for the White Sox scored via bloop hits, with two coming on Matt Skole’s double in the first off Spencer Turnbull. Tim Anderson built on his ninth-inning homer in Philadelphia on Sunday by knocking out three hits and scoring two runs, while McCann added two hits and an RBI.
Anderson, McCann and Yolmer Sanchez combined to finish 7-for-14 with five runs scored and two RBIs in the order’s final three spots. It was more than enough offense to support Giolito and three relievers, with closer Alex Colome throwing 22 pitches in the ninth in a non-save situation.
“He was the one for us that was the most rested. He had two days off,” said Renteria of using Colome. “We've been using everybody and had somebody gotten on, I was going to have to go out and try to get him anyways.”
Monday marked Giolito’s 22nd start of 2019, during which he has produced a 3.44 ERA and 158 strikeouts over 130 2/3 innings. While the pitcher's win certainly doesn’t mean as much as it once did, Giolito still was happy to pick up No. 12 after a bit of a drought.
“They say win-loss record doesn’t matter, but as a pitcher you take pride in everything, and you want to make sure you are winning games,” Giolito said. “It feels good to get back in that column.
“It’s kind of weird. It wasn’t one of those games where I feel like I really deserved it, like I really got after it. But it’s a long season and I’m still trying to adjust to a lot of things. Obviously my delivery is completely different than it was a year ago. So, need to continue to maintain and the goal for the next outing is just to have better focus pitch to pitch.”