Lucas Giolito excellent in fifth start, White Sox win with 2 in 9th
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lucas Giolito looked the part again Wednesday, pitching like the kind of starter who could be a rotation piece for years to come should he carry on with what he’s shown in his first five outings for the White Sox.
Holding the Royals to a run over 6 1/3 innings in the Sox’ 5-3 victory against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Giolito left after throwing 93 pitches and leading 3-1 with Alex Gordon on base with the Royals fourth hit, a soft one-out single to left. The 6-6 right-hander gave up four hits and walked three while striking out three and lowering his ERA to a tidy 2.56.
The only hard-hit ball of the four hits against Giolito was Salvador Perez’ homer in the sixth inning that cut the Sox lead to 3-1. Alcides Escobar broke his bat on a single in the fourth.
“His stuff is moving,’’ catcher Kevan Smith said. “He doesn’t throw too many straight pitches. If you want to say his elevated heater is straight . . . but that thing is climbing the ladder as it’s coming to you.’’
Smith said hitters come up to bat “joking, ‘this guy is 7-foot-5, how am I supposed to hit?’ So it’s funny when guys have that perspective with him.
“It’s fun seeing a pitch that he didn’t hit his spot but guys pop it up. It’s like all right, something is moving there.’’
The Royals tied the game with two runs in the eighth against right-hander Danny Farquhar, leaving Giolito with his first no-decision, but the Sox scored two in the ninth on Jose Abreu’s sacrifice fly and Avisail Garcia’s RBI single — his 70th RBI — against lefty Scott Alexander to break a 3-3 tie and give the Sox a series victory and their fourth win in five games.
Juan Minaya pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win in relief.
Acquired in the December trade along with right-handers Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, Giolito spent most of the season at Class AAA Charlotte, tweaking his delivery after the Sox saw him in spring training. He pitched to a 6-10 record and 4.48 ERA.
“Much cleaner delivery now,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “He has shown himself to be quietly confident. He’s not an arrogant -person on the hill. He knows what he wants to do.’’
Giolito’s fastball sits in the low 90s but he moves it around in the strike zone, up and down, in and out. He struck out 10 Rays three outings ago, and while getting only three —the Royals are a tough lineup to get strikeouts against — very few balls were squared up against him.
“It was one of those battle days,’’ said Giolito, who walked two in the first but found a better rhythm as the game went on.
“I definitely felt a little out of sync in the beginning but give a lot of credit to Smitty back there. He knew when to slow it down, come out and talk to me, kind of reset things, get some of my mechanical cues working. Luckily we were able to battle through it and I started feeling a little better with command later in the outing.’’
“He seems to have a lot of confidence in attacking hitters and he continues to grow,’’ Renteria said. “Everybody forgets, he’s  years old, and gaining a lot of experience here.’’
Giolito said he’s pleased overall with his first five starts, chalking them up to a learning experience and still wanting more.
Renteria said “time will tell us” whether Giolito will carry his -encouraging September into 2018 and beyond.
“It’s about consistency and -execution for all these guys, and he’s well on his way,’’ Renteria said.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.