No-no special for McCann after close call

August 26th, 2020

CHICAGO -- The first career no-hitter for , thrown Tuesday night in a 4-0 White Sox victory over the Pirates, also was the first no-hitter caught by .

But when Giolito reached the ninth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field, McCann flashed back to the no-hitter that almost was with Justin Verlander and the Tigers. Verlander went eight no-hit innings on Aug. 26, 2015, at home against the Angels, before Chris Iannetta opened the ninth with a double to left.

“I relived the pitch that we threw, that we gave up the no-hitter on, back in 2015,” McCann said. “I just kept thinking to myself every pitch is 0-2. We're not trying to steal a strike here, we're trying to make a nasty, perfect pitch, every pitch from here on out and he did it.

“He made his pitches. I looked out there and in his eyes, I couldn't tell the difference whether it was the ninth and the no-hitter was on the line or if it was the first inning. So tip your cap to him. He did a great job holding his composure throughout the game.”

With a 0-2 count on Erik González and two outs in the ninth, McCann called for a high fastball and Giolito fired a four-seamer at 96.6 mph. The pitch wasn’t exactly where Giolito wanted it and González, who was the Pirates’ only baserunner via a four-pitch walk in the fourth, made good contact. But right fielder Adam Engel made the running catch to end the 19th no-hitter in franchise history.

“It's very similar to how I lost my no-hitter with Verlander,” said McCann of the final pitch call. “We hadn't been beat by a fastball all night and we threw 97 mph up in the zone, it got hooked down the line and almost hit chalk for a fair ball.

“So, we had thrown four sliders in a row to [José] Osuna the at-bat before, gone two straight sliders to González and my thought process was here, ‘Let's let a fastball rip up at the top of the zone, really at his eyes.’ I really didn't want anything close to the zone and I kind of gave him a fist bump saying, ‘Hey, let's get it here, let's go, let's make one more pitch.’ He threw it up, it was at the top of the zone and González put a great swing on it and thank the lord it went right to Engy and he made a heck of a play out there to conserve that no-hitter.”

During Giolito’s All-Star 2019 campaign, when the right-hander finished tied for sixth in the American League Cy Young voting, McCann developed a special battery bond while catching all 176 2/3 innings thrown by Giolito. The two have flourished again this season, with Giolito having fanned 26 over 16 consecutive scoreless innings thrown to McCann in his past two starts.

Nothing will compare to Tuesday’s effort and that final out.

“I don't think I've held my breath like that in a really long time with a ball off the bat. It was one of those that off the bat I didn't even really want to watch it, to be honest,” McCann said. “Getting this no-hitter with Lucas at this point in my career, it's a memory I'll never forget. Just where I'm at in my career and doing it with a guy like Lucas that I have such a special connection with, it's something where I don't even know what to say. It's pretty special.”

“It was one of those nights where we were really in sync,” Giolito said. “Like I had the grip ready to go, and he was putting the signs down. Obviously, the relationship we have on and off the field is stupendous. I mean, I can't say enough good things about him. He was such a huge part of what happened tonight.”