Overcoming his recent struggles and a dangerous opponent, Lucas Giolito pitched just well enough to give his team a chance. The 23 year-old went 5.2 IP and surrendered just 3 runs on Sunday afternoon, and the Chicago White Sox capitalized. The South Siders came out on top 5-3, salvaging a win in the first three-game installment of the Crosstown Classic.
Preceding Giolito were two poor starting pitching performances by James Shields and Carson Fulmer, who both allowed 5+ runs. It looked to be more of the same today, as Giolito yielded two runs in the first inning. The Cubbies stole three bases and ran on two wild pitches in the frame, so it could have been a lot worse. Still, you can be sure a lot of exasperated Sox fans switched off their TVs following another immediate Cubs outburst.
However, he settled down, and worked out of enough jams to limit the North Siders to only one more plate-crosser the rest of the way. How? A good ole’ fashioned combination of defense and determination.
First, Giolito prevented a runner on second from scoring in the third inning. Then in the fourth, the Cubs had three straight baserunners, culminating with an Ian Happ RBI double. With runners on second and third and no outs, Giolito induced a ground ball to third, and an indecisive Addison Russell was soon ran down. From there, he secured a huge double play to escape the jam.
After 1.2 more innings with baserunners, Jace Fry took over. Amazingly, Giolito’s final line looked like this: 5.2 IP, 7 BB, 2 H, 3 K, 3 ER. It seems like the key for Giolito is to locate. Even when he’s not striking guys out, opponents don’t hit him all too hard. Combine that with less walks, and the recipe for success is there. Given his 7.25 ERA coming into the contest, it was a good day for the young righty.
In the midst of all this, the Sox bats stayed lukewarm. A Matt Davidson blast, his second of the series, put the Gray and Black on the board in the second inning. Yolmer Sanchez followed suit one frame later with an RBI single.
Matt Davidson finds the bleachers for the second time this series! pic.twitter.com/8XjuKWV2S6
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 13, 2018
Down 3-2 in the sixth, Nicky Delmonico worked Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks until he got a solid pitch to hit. He took advantage, tripling home Adam Engel before Matt Davidson scored him with a sacrifice fly. Suddenly, it was 4-3 Sox.
From there, it was smooth sailing. Youngster Jace Fry and Nate Jones dominated up until the ninth, while a Tim Anderson walk led to an insurance run in the seventh.
The stage was set for Bruce Rondon in the bottom of the ninth. Calm, cool, and collected, the veteran delivered a quick inning to cap off a satisfying series finale win.
All in all, it was a great day at Wrigley Field for the South Siders. The bullpen looked great, while the bats continued to prove that the lineup isn’t all that bad. In fact, they’re in the top half of the league for team wRC+ rankings.
Make no mistake though, this one’s about one of the White Sox’s promising arms. Lucas Giolito mustered a quality outing despite not exhibiting good control, a huge improvement and possible confidence booster for him. At this point in the season and rebuild, that’s all we’re looking for.
Feature Photo Credit: @whitesox on Twitter