ST. LOUIS — One minute, Lucas Giolito was working on his best start for the White Sox since last September’s seven-inning, one-run, 10-strikeout gem in Tampa. The next, he was struggling to regain his composure after serving up a home run ball to Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez.
Through 5‰ innings Wednesday, Giolito (1-4) had been touched for one hit and zero runs. He’d struck out seven and walked no one. He was dominating. And then he threw a first-pitch fastball in at the belt to Martinez, who crushed it for the first homer of his career.
It was the first run for either team in a game the Sox went on to lose 3-2. Giolito, 23, who admitted he was rattled after Martinez’ 407-foot shot, gave up a two-run blast to dead center to ex-Cub Dexter Fowler in the seventh.
“I was in such a good rhythm up until that point,” he said. “That’s a big learning experience right there. You give up a home run, whether it’s [to] a pitcher or a position player, you’ve got to be able to just forget about it immediately and keep going, keep staying on track. I didn’t do that.
Manager Rick Renteria hoped Giolito would ask to stay in the game after the scoreless tie was broken, and that’s what happened.
“I need that fire, that confidence that he had,” Renteria said. “He had to regroup from what was starting to unravel a little bit. It’s a great learning experience.”
It was the first homer by a pitcher against the Sox since the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta took Jose Quintana deep at Wrigley Field on July 12, 2015.
It would be difficult to conjure a more frustrating game at the plate than the one Sox right fielder Daniel Palka had Wednesday.
In his first at-bat, in a scoreless game in the second inning, Palka grounded into a rally-killing double play. After grounding out again in the fifth, he grounded into another double play —this time, the Sox were trailing 1-0 — with two men on to end the seventh.
And then came the final out of the game, which Palka made by — any guesses out there? — yes, that’s right, grounding out.
On the bright side for Palka, a 26-year-old first-time big-leaguer who was called up in late April after Avisail Garcia went on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring injury, his opportunity to make an impression with the Sox could last awhile. Garcia isn’t close to coming back.
“I don’t have a specific update yet,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He’s recovering from a Grade 2 hamstring strain, so it’s going to take a few weeks to get him back active at this level.”
Palka might want to see if he can dial up any more four-hit games like the one he had last weekend in Kansas City.