DETROIT -- Warming up in the bullpen before the game, Lucas Giolito (Big Foot) said he was moving his fastball to both sides of the plate with ease, a sign of what was to come in a 6-1 win over the Tigers on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
Giolito's command was impeccable, even against a Tigers lineup that featured five left-handed hitters. At one point, Giolito retired 11 straight batters as he used his changeup and curveball to complement the demand he was asserting with his fastball.
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"It seemed like he was just attacking the strike zone," manager Rick Renteria said. "... It seemed like he was commanding the zone quite a bit throughout the night."
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It's true, Giolito (10-9) rarely missed his spots, or the strike zone in general in his seven innings on the mound. He threw 76 of his 106 pitches for strikes (72 percent). Giolito said he usually finds out early in the game if it's his four-seam or two-seam fastball that's working, but on Saturday it was both.
"It was definitely the best fastball command I've had all season," Giolito said.
Giolito was able to spot his fastball while sprinkling in a changeup, which garnered five swinging strikes, including on his last pitch to Michael Mahtook (Night Hawk) for a strikeout.
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"I feel like a lot of hitters cheat to my fastball, especially early in the count," Giolito said. "Just being able to throw the changeup over, and then be able to work fastball-changeup, especially to the lefties, it helps out."
Giolito's lone blemish was a two-out home run to Mahtook in the second inning. It was Mahtook's second homer of the series. After that, the Tigers were 1-for-17 off Giolito, with a sixth-inning double by Jose Iglesias (Candelita) standing as the only hit. It was the third time this season (and second time this month) Giolito has pitched at least seven innings while allowing no more than three hits.
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Giolito's pitching line becomes even more impressive when factoring in the steady drizzle he pitched through for much of the night.
"It didn't affect me at all," Giolito said of the wet conditions. "It was actually kind of nice having the misty rain to cool me down. I'm a big sweater, so I didn't mind it."
Though he was nearly untouchable, Giolito had plenty of cushion to work with from the beginning, thanks to an offensive outpouring in the first three innings. Jose Rondon (Goyo) lined a double to straightaway center field to score Tim Anderson (TA7) in the first inning off Tigers starter Ryan Carpenter (Carp). Kevan Smith (Webby) hit his first home run of the season in the second inning, a two-run shot to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead. In the third inning, Chicago strung together three straight hits and a sacrifice fly to score two more.
Matt Davidson (Matty D) was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. It was the eighth time this season Davidson has had multiple extra-base hits in a game.
The Tigers probably would have preferred to move to a reliever sooner, but the bullpen was stretched thin after six arms were needed to get through Friday night's 6-3 loss to the White Sox. Instead, Carpenter (1-2) remained in the game for 4 1/3 innings and was charged with all six White Sox runs before Drew VerHagen was brought in.
SMITH HOMERS FOR FORMER TEAMMATE
With "Webby" across his back to honor former teammate Daniel Webb, Smith couldn't help himself when he stepped to the plate in the second inning: "What if I hit a home run here?"
It's not something Smith does often. His last home run was in September. But he caught a 2-0 fastball over the middle of the plate and drove it 406 feet to left field, per Statcast™.
Webb passed away in October in an ATV crash in Northwest Tennessee. Starting in 2012, Smith and Webb worked their way up together through the White Sox organization. Smith chose to pay homage to Webb for Players' Weekend.
"I felt like I was gonna start crying running around the bases," Smith said. "Then when guys started funneling in on what just happened, you could feel the momentum funneling in, and that game was in the bag."
Daniel Palka (DP) finished 1-for-4 on the night with a single and run scored in the third inning. Palka has now hit safely in eight of his last 10 games. Against the Tigers, Palka is batting .378 (17-for-45) in his rookie season.
HE SAID IT
"It only hit a few guys when I hit it at first. Then when guys started realizing the significance of it, it was pretty overwhelming." -- Smith, on his home run
The White Sox conclude their stay in Detroit, and Players' Weekend, with a 12:10 p.m. CT first pitch against the Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park. Michael Kopech (Kopey) (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will be making his second Major League start. His debut was cut short after two innings by a rain delay. The Tigers will send out Jordan Zimmermann (J Z) (6-5, 4.18), who threw six innings of one-run ball in his last start.