Lucas Giolito has best start of season, but White Sox lose 3-1 to Twins

Lucas Giolito pitched six innings of one-run ball and probably deserved better.

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Kyle Farmer of the Twins is attended to after being hit in the head by a pitch. (AP)

Kyle Farmer of the Twins is attended to after being hit in the head by a pitch by Lucas Giolito during the fourth inning against the White Sox, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

AP Photos

MINNEAPOLIS — Say this for the White Sox, they pitched well again in a game they really needed to win.

As for the hitting? The 3-1 loss Wednesday to the Twins in the rubber game of their AL Central series says it all.

And the defense? Right fielder Gavin Sheets falling down under a Ryan Jeffers fly ball that fell for a triple, and first baseman Andrew Vaughn bobbling a Michael Taylor ground ball, negating a chance to nab Jeffers at the plate, tells that story.

Lucas Giolito recovered from a scary, unsettling pitch that struck Kyle Farmer in the jaw to have his best start. He pitched six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts, but the Sox finished a 2-4 road trip still searching for a series win in 2023.

“The story of the last couple games is we didn’t swing the bat, that simple,” manager Pedro Grifol said.

“Our pitching has kind of caught stride with what they can do. What we need to do now is put it all together for more than one game. And we will. We have to continue to battle with what we got, get our guys healthy, keep them on the field and put it all together.”

Without injured players Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez, the lineup didn’t pose a huge threat against Twins starter Sonny Gray (2-0, 0.53 ERA), even if Gray was under the weather. Gray allowed three hits in five innings and the Sox were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

“It’s not what we wanted,” Giolito said of the Sox’ start to the season and injuries, “but it’s the hand we are dealt.”

The Twins, without Carlos Correa, are not at full strength either. And Farmer was hit by a 91-mph fastball from Giolito that left him down on his knees for several moments before he slowly walked off on his own with help from a trainer and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.

Farmer will require dental work but avoided a fracture.

Visibly upset, Giolito flinched when Farmer was hit, raising his hands to his head. He then walked Edourd Julien on five pitches to load the bases. In the middle of the at-bat, pitching coach Ethan Katz came out to the mound.

“It’s something that obviously I feel very very bad about,” Giolito said. “Never want to hit anyone up there. It will rattle you in the moment, but you have to do what you can to regain focus in the situation.”

Giolito got Taylor to hit a grounder to Vaughn near first base, but Vaughn bobbled the ball, settling for an easy out at first when he might have had a play at home on Jeffers, who reached on Sheets’ misplay.

“Frustrating in the moment,” Giolito said. “But those things happen in this game.”

After making four errors in the first two games of the series, this one added to the defensive slump after acceptable and at times spectacular glove work in the first 10 games.

“[Giolito] had been jamming guys all day,” said Sheets, a converted first baseman, of his slip in right field. “I thought [Jeffers] got jammed a little better, took a hard step in and kind of got turned around with the ball fading into the wind. I feel terrible in that situation, especially with the way Gio is throwing the ball. Especially to not get an error there and get that earned on him. That’s terrible.”

Giolito bounced back after allowing the run, striking out Byron Buxton and Jose Miranda in a perfect fifth, and he pitched a scoreless sixth before the Twins added two runs in the eighth against Aaron Bummer. Giolito threw 108 pitches, 13 for swinging strikes.

Lenyn Sosa homered with two outs in the ninth against Jhoan Duran to give the Sox their only run.

But it was too little, too late, as the Sox fell to 5-8.

NOTE: The Sox signed 31-year-old right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon and assigned him to Triple-A Charlotte, a source confirmed. De Leon pitched for the Cardinals from 2018-21.

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