HOUSTON -- There was a moment during Chicago's 3-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park that showed off the pitcher Lucas Giolito is becoming as opposed to just highlighting the highly touted rookie.It came in the sixth inning, with Marwin Gonzalez at the plate, Carlos Correa
HOUSTON -- There was a moment during Chicago's 3-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park that showed off the pitcher Lucas Giolito is becoming as opposed to just highlighting the highly touted rookie.
It came in the sixth inning, with Marwin Gonzalez at the plate, Carlos Correa at second and two outs in a 2-1 ballgame. Gonzalez, who is a .293 hitter with an .884 OPS, battled the young right-hander through 12 pitches.
Giolito threw pretty much everything he had to the man with 82 RBIs before getting him swinging on a changeup on pitch No. 12. That pitch stood as one of Giolito's six swings-and-misses induced, with three off the change, among his 100 pitches.
"Changeup was a good pitch for me, aside from the few I left up," Giolito said after slipping to 2-3 overall. "I had a lot of confidence in it, and that was probably the offspeed pitch that I was most comfortable going to in big situations. I felt pretty good about how I pitched, for sure."
Tuesday's effort marked Giolito's fourth start out of six in which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer. He yielded two over 6 2/3 innings while striking out three and walking one.
And he went up against the Astros' front-line lineup -- which entered Tuesday with a Major League-best .282 team average and .824 OPS -- and held the bats in check.
"This is an excellent ballclub," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria after Giolito recorded nine of his 14 called strikes off his four-seam fastball, per Statcast™. "They have good hitters across the board. They are patient, they're aggressive when they need to be. They put the barrel on the ball. He did a very nice job containing these guys as long as he did."
"His changeup is very good," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, he can spin a couple of different breaking balls, and it looks like a heavy fastball. Really, an impressive young starter to be able to navigate the lineup in different ways and get guys out in different ways and really compete. Good first impression. First time I'd seen him in the big leagues."
After finding a self-described "mental click" while pitching for Triple-A Charlotte, as well as repeatable mechanics on his delivery, Giolito has carried that consistency to the big leagues.
"Over the course of this season, I started to take pride in maintaining composure on the mound at all times, especially in big situations," Giolito said. "It feels more normal getting into that rhythm of being in the big leagues, pitching every five days. I'm getting my routine down."
"He's throwing his breaking ball more effectively. Right now his changeup as well," Renteria said. "All in all, he's been doing what he needs to do. He's kept hitters off balance. His ball has some life, he's got angle, and we're happy to see the way he's continued to develop."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston and covered the White Sox on Tuesday.