White Sox pitching battered again in loss to Pirates

The White Sox waste two homers by Luis Robert, a home run by Jake Burger and four hits by Tim Anderson.

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Lucas Giolito of the White Sox lasted four innings on Opening Day at PNC Park on April 7, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Lucas Giolito of the White Sox reacts after giving up a three run home run in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during inter-league play on Opening Day at PNC Park on April 7, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


PITTSBURGH — The White Sox can mash all they want — and it says here they will hit for as long as their lineup stays healthy — but it won’t matter much if they can’t get anyone out.

After giving up a whopping 13 home runs to the Giants in their first home series of the season, including games in which starters Michael Kopech and Lance Lynn allowed five and three homers, respectively, Friday starter Lucas Giolito enjoyed the benefit of seven runs before manager Pedro Grifol went to his bullpen in a 13-9 loss to the Pirates.

Grifol, in his first year, looked at his rotation and thought he saw a strength to build around. He might be wondering after his first eight games, but publicly he says he’s not worried.

“I don’t have concern with the pitching; I really don’t,” Grifol said after watching the Giants score 12 runs on Monday and 16 on Thursday before the Pirates sprinkled a baker’s dozen on them Friday. “These guys have done it before; they’ve done it for a while now. It’s just one of those stretches. Obviously, there are adjustments to be made. They’re working on it. But concerns? I don’t.”

Dylan Cease pitched a gem against the champion Astros and allowed one run against the Giants in his second start, albeit one tainted by five walks, and Mike Clevinger pitched five scoreless innings in the Sox’ four-game split with Houston to open the season.

Lynn was pretty good in his first start, although it lasted 5‰ innings. Beyond that, bombs away and duck for a starting unit that has a 6.81 ERA.

“Lance wasn’t at his best,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said Friday. “He’ll bounce back. He was fantastic in Houston and had a tough day.

“Michael started with a blaze of glory and was really good. Then they ran into some hittable pitches.’’

Katz liked Kopech’s changeup — a lot. As for the thought that Kopech was tipping pitches, Katz would only say the Giants, a team he coached, “hit good pitches. We just need to be better.”

It’s early, but the battering has been alarming. The Pirates banged out 19 hits, including 12 off Giolito, who allowed seven runs.

“We were given leads, and I kept giving them up,” Giolito said. “They were just hitting the ball pretty well, soft contact, finding some holes, then breaking it open with home runs, big hits, doubles, things like that. Probably take a look at how I’m sequencing pitches, basic command of the pitches.”

Bryan Reynolds homered and drove in six runs, and Andrew McCutchen had two hits in his first game at PNC Park as a member of the Pirates since 2017.

The Sox’ defense was not crisp, either. Luis Robert, who belted his third and fourth homers, didn’t get a great jump on a pop fly that fell behind retreating shortstop Tim Anderson, who had a shot at making the play; second baseman Elvis Andrus bounced a throw past Yoan Moncada on Reynolds’ bases-loaded triple and reliever Jimmy Lambert was not backing up — he chose home instead — and reliever Jesse Scholtens muffed a throw from Anderson, squashing a chance for a double play.

After the Pirates’ lineup treated 39,167 fans, the biggest crowd in Pittsburgh since 2016, by knocking out Giolito, Jake Diekman was charged with four earned runs on a walk and three hits. The Pirates (5-2) won their fourth in a row.

The Sox (3-5) wasted Robert’s three hits — he also doubled — and five RBI, a two-run homer and double for Jake Burger and a four-hit, two-stolen-base game for Anderson that included two doubles.

Oscar Colas hit his first career homer in the ninth.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” Giolito said. “We’re not going deep enough into games, especially me today. But the good side is it’s pretty early in the season. And we’ve just got to make adjustments.”

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