CHICAGO -- Life at the break-even mark, record-wise, did not last long for the White Sox.
After pulling out an exciting and draining come-from-behind 7-6, 12-inning victory Tuesday night over the Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox dropped a 9-5 decision to Toronto Wednesday afternoon. Chicago won the series, entering a four-game home set with the Orioles on Thursday at 33-34, but it did so with another pair of injuries and off another rough outing from Lucas Giolito.
The team’s Opening Day starter allowed seven runs on a career-high 11 hits over five innings, striking out three and walking one. He was touched up for five in the fourth, with Bo Bichette capping the rally via his second career grand slam.
Giolito’s struggles have lasted for five starts since May 31, when he entered a game in Toronto with a 2.63 ERA. From that point, the right-hander has yielded 27 earned runs over 25 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 5.40.
Toronto (39-30) has scored 13 runs in two games against Giolito, leaving the right-hander frustrated but equally accountable for his struggles.
“I just got shelled. They hit the ball hard, hammered mistakes, they hit some balls that were executed well. That's pretty much it,” Giolito said. “It's pretty brutal. Yeah, it sucks. Keep working, keep trying to make these adjustments.”
“Good hitting by the Blue Jays,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “They got on him right away and didn't really give him a chance to get established. I just give them credit. He's healthy. He's ready to go against the Angels [on Monday]."
Giolito has been working on a lot of mechanical stuff between starts with pitching coach Ethan Katz, and said Wednesday progress is being made. When it comes to the game, especially with the team’s offensive uptick in June, Giolito is trying to give the White Sox a chance to win, and he’s “failing to do that over and over,” Giolito added.
There were 10 swings and misses against Giolito, per Statcast, and his fastball topped out at 94 mph. His average velocity of 92.3 mph was down from the season average of 93.2, but Giolito said he feels fine.
“It's very frustrating, and so that's why I've gotta just figure it out,” Giolito said. “Bullpens have been good. I've been making progress there. I'm just not doing my job in between the lines. It's just like getting back to me and what makes me successful, so it shouldn't be so hard.”
“You'll never get better unless you make the adjustments, and you've got to work through them. And [the Blue Jays] are for real, offensively,” La Russa said. “That's why I say, rather than what Gio's not, it's what I think the Blue Jays’ hitting is."
What doesn’t seem to be happening for the White Sox is the team getting to full strength or completely healthy. Shortstop Danny Mendick, who figures prominently at second with Tim Anderson back, suffered right knee discomfort after colliding with left fielder Adam Haseley on Santiago Espinal’s foul pop-up caught by Haseley to end the second. Mendick needed help leaving the field and was getting an MRI after the collision, per La Russa.
Adam Engel was replaced by AJ Pollock in the top of the fourth, with Haseley moving over to right field, as Engel was bothered by right hamstring soreness. Luis Robert, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games, was removed in the top of the eighth due to leg soreness, which was evident when Robert’s run-scoring single in the sixth got past left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. but Robert didn’t get to second.
Robert should be back in the starting lineup Thursday night, and the White Sox will continue to play through a plethora of injuries. But to move toward the Twins and Guardians in the American League Central and into the postseason, they will need the ace-hurler version of Giolito back on the mound.
“He’s got unbelievable stuff,” Andrew Vaughn, who had three hits and closed the game playing second base, said of Giolito. “We all believe in him.”
“Yeah, like I know that when I'm right, I am a good starting pitcher and can go deep, strike guys out,” Giolito said. “So I know that. It's just a matter of making it happen, making the adjustments that are necessary. I want to give the team a chance to win when I take the ball. I have not been doing that, and so that’s pretty much it. I've got to figure it out.”