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Giolito's remarkable run halted at Wrigley

Righty's first loss since April 6 breaks up eight-start winning streak
@scottmerkin
June 20, 2019

CHICAGO – For the first time since April 6 and for the second time all season, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito lost a game. That defeat came at the hands of the Cubs in a 7-3 finale at a frigid Wrigley Field on Wednesday night, with the All-Star-caliber hurler allowing

CHICAGO – For the first time since April 6 and for the second time all season, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito lost a game.

That defeat came at the hands of the Cubs in a 7-3 finale at a frigid Wrigley Field on Wednesday night, with the All-Star-caliber hurler allowing six runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. It was just the third start all season in which Giolito allowed more than three earned runs.

And while the right-hander posted a 9-0 record with a 1.67 ERA in his 11 starts since the setback, giving him a deserved look of invincibility, he certainly wasn’t going to run perfectly through the rest of this 2019 season.

Box score

“I’m happy with what I’ve done up until tonight, but like I said before, not every game is going to be the best,” said Giolito, after the Cubs and White Sox split a two-game series on the North Side. “I wish I competed better and kept us in the game, but it was one of those rough ones.”

“Just one of those days,” White Sox catcher James McCann said. “You are not going to go eight-inning shutout every time. It’s what you do in those games when you don’t really have it. Unfortunately, tonight they made us pay for our mistakes.”

Kyle Schwarber opened the scoring Tuesday with a first-pitch home run off of Ivan Nova. Leury García did the same on Wednesday against Cubs starter Jon Lester, driving the initial offering 429 feet to left.

That 1-0 margin did not hold up for long. Schwarber doubled to right to begin the bottom of the first against Giolito, and one out later, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez drew walks to load the bases. Willson Contreras fell behind at 1-2 in the count, fouled off two pitches -- including a chopper barely going foul down the first-base line -- and then launched his first of two home runs off Giolito and his third career grand slam on a changeup.

David Bote also homered, leading off the fourth, against Giolito’s changeup, a devastating pitch for him during this ’19 climb to excellence. Giolito also has allowed 12 first-inning runs over his 14 starts this season.

“Hung a changeup in the first inning, two walks in the first inning,” Giolito said. “I just have to do a better job of competing in the first inning. I got a run and then went out there and gave up four, unacceptable in my book. Just not competing to my best ability.”

“It was more location,” said McCann, referring specifically to the changeup issue. “The one to Bote was up. The one to Contreras, we were ahead in the count and it was sitting in the zone to be hit. He executed some good ones later in the game to other hitters.”

McCann homered during a two-run fourth against Lester, giving him three long balls in his last four games. Rookie Zack Collins drew a ninth-inning walk off of Steve Cishek as a pinch-hitter, a befitting first career plate appearance for a player with such a keen batting eye.

“Rizzo said a couple things to me, said congratulations and stuff like that. That was pretty cool,” said Collins, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the club's No. 11 prospect. “Other than that, I was kind of in a daze out there looking around, soaking it all in, enjoying the moment.”

But this game was really about a rare blip for Giolito. After winning eight straight individual starts beginning on May 7, and the White Sox winning his last nine starts, Giolito still managed to strike out nine and record 21 swinging strikes per Statcast on a night when he admittedly didn’t have his best stuff.

“I got hit hard. That was the hardest I've been hit in a long time,” Giolito said. “Just hanging some sliders, changeup was probably the worst it's been this year. It is what it is.

“You're not going to go out there and have a great outing every single time. I would've liked to control the damage better than I did tonight, but I've got another one in five days.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.