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Battery of Lucas Giolito and James McCann has been a powerful one for Sox, who fall 6-5

“[McCann’s] unreal back there,” Giolito said. “Every single game, every single pitch, he’s into it 100 percent.’’

James McCann
James McCann #33 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates in the dugout after scoring in the third inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 17, 2019 in Anaheim, California.   
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

ANAHEIM, Calif. — An award-winning television producer was in the White Sox’ broadcast booth Saturday night, giving James McCann the perfect opportunity to try and put on another show.

Michael Schur, who produced and wrote “The Office,” and co-created “Parks and Recreation,” among other hit shows shared the microphone with play-by-play man Jason Benetti while McCann worked below, trying to advance the plot.

McCann’s two-run double in the third inning against the Angels came one day after he hit a game-clinching grand slam and guided Lucas Giolitto to an 11-strikeout performance from behind the plate. But Mike Trout had a two-run single in a four-run seventh inning as the Angels rallied for a 6-5 victory.

It still has been a week to remember for McCann, who also hit a go-ahead grand slam against the Astros on Wednesday.

On Sunday, he was also behind the plate for Giolito’s career-best 13 strikeouts against the Athletics, helping the right-hander add another chapter to the riveting story that has been his bounce-back season.

After a rough 2018 season when Giolito went 10-13 with a 6.13 ERA and led the league in earned runs (118) and walks (90), a transformation has been sure and steady. Giolito’s success was not wholly unexpected, but his 13-6 mark with a 3.41 ERA in 24 starts and an appearance in the All-Star Game, has the young pitcher on track to help get the club through its rebuild.

While there are plenty of reasons for Giolito’s success, including his experience and a delivery tweak this spring, his work with McCann hasn’t gone unnoticed. Giolito is quick to praise McCann whenever he can.

“He’s unreal back there,” Giolito said. “Every single game, every single pitch he’s into it 100 percent. He’s not just throwing fingers down. He has a game plan of how we attack every single hitter. We go over it before the game and stick to it but if something is working well we’ll kind of adjust from there.”

The duo is evolving into a key partnership moving into future seasons.

“We’re always talking between innings,” Giolito said. “Having that type of a relationship with a catcher is unbelievable. It’s really, really useful in my opinion.”

McCann is just as quick to return the praise.

“For a guy like Giolito, he has elite stuff and it’s just a matter of controlling his emotions and controlling the game from pitch one,” McCann said. “He did a good job of doing that. There were moments where the game [Friday] could have gone in a different direction and he found a way to shut them down.”

Manager Rick Renteria will not say McCann is Giolito’s personal catcher moving forward, but he admits he will put the partnership together as often as possible.

“We have done our best to give them the best comfort level possible,” Renteria said. “Do I think that should be the commonality of all pitchers and catchers? Not necessarily. But I do think that is a good relationship they have developed and we have been able to take advantage of it.”

Giolito explained his symbiotic relationship with McCann in the simplest of terms. Whatever pitch his catcher calls he trusts it with all his heart. It is exactly what the Sox want to hear.

“What ends up happening is that when pitchers are convinced of a particular pitch, they have a tendency to execute it with conviction,” Renteria said. “That’s just the bottom line. Ultimately, if I’m pitching to a catcher and he is not on the same page with me in terms of a pitch, once I shake to the pitch I want, I still have to make it with conviction. They get into a nice rhythm.”

As long as Giolito is throwing the pitch he believes in, into the location he wants, he can focus on the only statistic he cares to follow.

“I just want to keep the walks down,” he said. “I know my stuff plays well so if I continue to attack the strike zone, keep the walk total down, then I’m probably going to have good numbers. It’s about getting ahead, putting guys away and the only number I look at is keeping the walks down.”