Sandwiched between two doubleheaders, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito knew he had to work deep into Sunday’s game against the Orioles.
That’s what he did, and it helped the Sox win 3-1 to complete the four-game sweep. The Sox have won six of seven, improved to a season-best 12 games over .500 (32-20) and swept a four-game series against the Orioles at home for the first time since June 1956.
“That was one of the biggest goals today, was going as deep as I possibly could,” Giolito said. “Any game after a doubleheader where we play 14 innings, it’s on that starter the next day to give it their best effort and pitch deep.”
Giolito had 12 strikeouts in seven innings, allowing only DJ Stewart’s third-inning home run. Conscious of his pitch count all day, Giolito
attempted to put opponents away in four pitches or fewer and avoid trouble as much as possible.
“A couple iffy situations, but we were able to get out of them,” Giolito said.
At times, Sox hitters looked iffy against Orioles starter Keegan Akin and four relievers, but they gave Giolito just enough support.
Billy Hamilton homered for the second consecutive day, tying the game in the third at 1-1. Unlike Saturday, when he basically sprinted around the bases after his homer, his trot was clearly slower.
Sox manager Tony La Russa, deadpanning about the trot, once again praised Hamilton.
“I don’t care who hits it, when you hit it to tie the game there or put us ahead, it’s energizing,” La Russa said. “I said [Saturday], he’s a magnetic figure in that clubhouse and in the dugout. Guys just go to him. I thought his trot was better today. I don’t think he’s ever going to slow up much more than that. But it wasn’t a sprint. He was great.”
The Sox gave Giolito the lead with two runs in the seventh, the first coming on Nick Madrigal’s triple that brought in Tim Anderson. Madrigal then scored on Yoan Moncada’s single.
“It’s a great feeling to come through for your team in that situation,” Madrigal said.
Giolito certainly came through, especially during the Orioles’ biggest threat.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on Cedric Mullins’ bunt single and two walks. Throwing just changeups, Giolito struck out Anthony Santander on three pitches for the second out. Maikel Franco then popped out to catcher Zack Collins to end the inning on an at-bat in which Giolito used the change on three of four pitches.
Giolito said he had lost his release point with the fastball and knew the next hitters probably would be looking for heaters. But Giolito and Collins didn’t give in and used the changeup to escape the threat.
“That’s on Zack, too. He called all those pitches,” Giolito said. “I don’t think I shook at all in that situation. He recognized that the changeup was working there. The fastball was a little iffy, and so we used the changeup to get out of it.”
Giolito earned his 13th career double-digit strikeout game, which ties Javier Vazquez for fourth-most in team history. Giolito is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last three games.
And with the staff in the middle of a taxing stretch, the Sox needed their Opening Day starter to pitch like one Sunday.
“He’s the first and biggest star by a lot,” La Russa said.