Giolito outduels ex-HS teammate Flaherty

May 26th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The White Sox 8-3 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field was an entertaining but somewhat bizarre contest.

It was billed as a Harvard-Westlake High School mound reunion, with Jack Flaherty bringing his 8-0 record into the contest for the Cardinals and coming off an 11-strikeout start in Minnesota for the White Sox. The two are friends and were rotation mates back in their days in Los Angeles with Ethan Katz, the current White Sox pitching coach, serving as their pitching coach at the time.

Flaherty lasted only 3 2/3 innings, although he had almost no support from his defense. The Cardinals (26-22) committed three errors, leading to only three of Flaherty’s seven runs allowed being earned. The White Sox (28-19) scored two runs in the first without benefit of a hit, including a second run coming in when right fielder Tommy Edman dropped a fly ball with two outs.

“We still had to have at-bats, and it’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “You have to give credit to our hitters for capitalizing.”

“A lot of mistakes early for them in the field and our guys took advantage,” Giolito said. “I feel like those mistakes kind of got us going to the point when we were really hitting the ball well, and I was able to get a very nice comfortable lead. No complaints.”

In his postgame Zoom, Giolito said he already had talked to Flaherty a little bit about the game and they intended to talk more over dinner. Giolito (4-4) yielded one earned run over six innings, striking out five and not issuing a walk, but he also felt tightness on his right side on a couple of pitches on his follow through in the top of the third.

Giolito was able to get out of the inning and was checked on by head athletic trainer James Kruk and La Russa before the fourth. He was able to get through six innings and 92 pitches.

“I didn’t think it was too bad, and so I would go out there and they just wanted to kind of monitor my warmup pitches in that next inning to make sure everything was good,” Giolito said. “It was good, and [I] went three more. Called it a night there, and then we’ll see how it’s all feeling leading up to this next start.”

“He’s talented, tough, and he’s courageous,” said La Russa of Giolito. “That long inning he had to wait and you go out there and it’s tough to maintain rhythm and he fought his way through it.”

José Abreu led the offense with his 10th home run and four RBIs, giving him 39 for the season, as the White Sox won their second straight after being swept by the Yankees this past weekend in New York. The White Sox now maintain a 1 1/2 game lead over the Indians in the American League Central.

“That was a tough series in New York. Just a lot of things that kind of didn’t go our way, like a triple play. That was pretty crazy,” Giolito said. “And so, we didn’t lose any confidence. It was just a weird, tough series for us out there and we all were fully confident we’d come back home, feel good being back at home.”

Now for the somewhat strange side of the contest. Home plate umpire Joe West was honored before the first pitch for career game No. 5,376 setting the Major League record for the highest total of any umpire. West had a highly entertaining postgame Zoom, during which he dropped names from Emmylou Harris, to retired NBA center Mark Eaton to the Oak Ridge Boys, who were part of the cavalcade in attendance, to even Boxcar Willie.

But West also was honored in the top of the sixth, when the game was official, as the Famous Chicken, formerly known as the San Diego Chicken and a friend of West’s, brought flowers to West on the field. That whole routine was played out as Giolito, whose fastball topped out at 96.3 mph, per Statcast, was warming up.

“They opened up the back gate and I see the chicken walking out, I’m like, ‘Oh man, please do not overthrow one or bounce a slider here in my warmups,’” said a smiling Giolito. “I know they had to do the whole thing.

“They were doing that whole thing pretty close. But I was able to keep it around the strike zone in the warmups there and stay locked in on what I needed to do.”