CHICAGO -- Lucas Giolito always envisioned throwing a no-hitter, just as he did for the White Sox in a 4-0 victory over the Pirates Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
But when Giolito was toiling during the 2018 campaign with a 6.13 ERA over 32 starts -- the worst mark among all qualified pitchers -- an exercise in mound dominance such as Tuesday’s might have been a little further back in his mind.
“If you would've asked me about it in '18, I probably would've been like, 'What the hell are you talking about?'” Giolito said. “But that was a weird year. I think it's just a product of hard work, determination, learning how to trust myself, trust my stuff.”
Giolito changed his delivery, rebuilt his mindset and refined his daily work in between starts during the offseason following 2018. He morphed into an All-Star in 2019, throwing shutouts against the Twins and the Astros -- two of the game’s best offenses -- in their own parks. And now with the first no-hitter thrown in 2020 and the 19th in franchise history, executed over 101 pitches, Giolito has established himself as a true top-of-the-rotation presence.
“I've seen him a bunch of times, having been in the [American League] Central. By far the best I've seen him. Complete control,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton. “From watching him, personally I knew from like the fourth or fifth inning this is the best stuff I’ve seen him have.”
“You’ve seen how much he’s worked,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s one of the guys that’s done so much in terms of turning themselves around. I don’t have any words. I want to cry. I’m really happy for him.”
The right-hander struck out 13 in Chicago’s first no-hitter since Philip Humber’s perfect game in Seattle on April 21, 2012. Giolito walked Pirates shortstop Erik González on four pitches to open the fourth and prevent the perfect game.
Engel got a great jump on González’s line drive, snaring it as it started to twist away just a bit. But Engel didn’t care as much about his influence on history as much as his joy for his friend and teammate, who recorded 30 swinging strikes (13 via the changeup, nine the four-seamer, eight the slider).
“I still can’t get over how excited I am for Lucas,” Engel said. “That’s something that so many guys will never experience. Just his comeback story and how hard he works. I can’t say enough good things about Lucas, both on and off the field. What a hard worker he is and a competitor he is, and just something really special to see. I’m still kind of on cloud nine for the guy.”
“Yeah, man. In that at-bat, I was a little bit mad because I didn’t want to be part of history,” González said. “That’s why I tried to hit the ball as hard as I can. Sometimes you do a good swing, but it doesn’t happen.”
Tuesday’s piece of history (which, by the way, came around a brief power outage at Guarnteed Rate Field) moved the White Sox into second place all-time, with the franchise's 19 no-hitters trailing only the Dodgers at 23 -- and Tuesday was the club's first no-hitter against a National League team. Giolito, 26, became the youngest White Sox pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Wilson Álvarez, 21, on Aug. 11, 1991 at Baltimore. What's more, Giolito became the tallest pitcher at 6-foot-7 to throw a no-hitter since the Angels' Jered Weaver (6-foot-7) on May 12, 2012.
By matching his career high with 13 strikeouts, Giolito has recorded 27 over his ongoing scoreless streak of 17 innings. It’s a far cry from his 2018 struggles, but even during that extremely rough patch, it was Renteria who pulled him aside and told Giolito he would reach this lofty territory.
Giolito proved his manager right once again. The two hugged on the field, after Giolito hugged catcher James McCann following the final out.
“You’re elated. I can’t explain it, they are like my kids,” Renteria said. “I hug them like I would hug any of my kids.”
“We saw one of the best pitchers in the game have a performance of a lifetime,” Shelton said.
“The thing is, I was able to do what we did tonight -- and it still hasn't sunk in yet, it's crazy -- but I know I can continue to get better,” Giolito said. “There are a lot of things I can improve. That's all I care about is becoming the best pitcher I can possibly be.”