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Baseball Daily Dose

No-No for White Sox Ace Giolito

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: August 26, 2020, 9:15 pm ET

In the postgame discussion, White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti noted the number on the front of Lucas Giolito's jersey: 27.

The number of outs in a game.

On Tuesday, also the number of outs Giolito recorded without giving up a hit.

Giolito dominated a hapless Pirates club en route to the truncated season's first no-hitter, striking out 13 in a 4-0 White Sox victory. The no-hitter was the 19th in White Sox history, and the first since Philip Humber's unlikely perfect game in 2012.

"I've been working for this type of game for a while now," Giolito told Benetti and color analyst Steve Stone in the postgame interview. "It's really cool that we got it done."

As with fellow American League Central starter Kenta Maeda's near no-no last week, Giolito's historic evening was well-deserved. The right-hander gave up just two hard-hit balls all evening -- one being the last out of the game -- and got 30 swinging strikes for a 48 percent called strike plus whiff rate (CSW), both of which were single-game highs for a starter in 2020.

Giolito walked just one while throwing 101 pitches to accomplish the feat. He did it with his usual three-pitch mix, hammering right-handers with sliders away and fooling lefties with a combination of high fastballs and disappearing changeups.

As with most seemingly herculean performances, Giolito got by with a little help from his friends as well. The closest the Pirates came to scuttling his no-hit bid was in the seventh inning, when Bryan Reynolds hit a cue shot up the middle that tailed away from a shifted Tim Anderson. Anderson gloved the ball on a soft bounce and, with his body carrying him away from first base, fired a strike to beat the speedy outfielder by a half-step.

The 26-year-old said it was after the seventh inning when he knew the no-hitter was within reach, but he still had to overcome the Bucs hitters -- and his own nerves -- in the ninth to finish it off. After striking out Jarrod Dyson and getting Jose Osuna to fly out, Giolito got two quick strikes on Erik Gonzalez before leaving an 0-2 fastball over the center of the plate. Gonzalez slashed it to right field but Adam Engel, playing shallow, gloved the sinking liner to end the game.

"The defense was unbelievable," Giolito said. "You can't do something like that without the whole team behind you."

The postgame celebration on the field was that of a team happy for their man, one who's been through his share of ups and downs since he was a first-round pick of the Nationals in 2012. Giolito rose to the ranking of the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball before struggling in the majors to the point that 2019 might have been his last best shot with the Sox.

He finally put it all together last year, posting a 3.41 ERA with 228 strikeouts in 176 2/3 innings of work, and after Tuesday's outing he's now got a 3.09 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in seven starts this year. If 2020 is his encore, Tuesday's outing was one heck of a crescendo.

Clevinger Cued Up

From a pitcher on top of the world to one trying to climb out of the depths of the doghouse, Mike Clevinger's redemption tour is set to start Wednesday.

The Indians on Tuesday announced the right-hander, who's been at the team's alternate training site for the past 11 days after violating health and safety protocols, will start their series finale against the Twins. Clevinger hasn't pitched in a major league game since August 5 but has been throwing at the Lake County, Ohio site, throwing 85 pitches in a simulated game last week.

"I think Mike has had the chance to reflect upon a lot over the course of the last week-to-10 days and is really eager to rejoin the team and get back up here and help us win games," Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "And I know in talking to our players, we're all ready to have him back and looking forward to him go out tomorrow night and pitch the way we all know he's capable of pitching."

Not joining him is fellow rulebreaker Zach Plesac, who's also been at the alternate site since it was discovered the duo left their Chicago hotel during a recent road trip. In the wake of the recent, impressive debut of pitching prospect Triston McKenzie and boasting a major league rotation rolling behind the likes of Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale, Antonetti said the team didn't have room for Plesac at the moment.

"I followed up and talked with Zach to explain the decision and let him know that we don't yet have an opportunity for him at the Major League level," Antonetti said. "But as we all have seen time and time again, that can change very quickly. So it's up to him to continue to pitch the way he's capable of pitching, continue to put in the work and be an option for us whenever we have the opportunity for it."

Clevinger has a lot to prove to his teammates off the field, but the right-hander also has some work to do on the field for an Indians team battling with the White Sox and Twins for the AL Central title. Despite a nice-looking 3.24 ERA through his first three starts this year, the 29-year-old has a 1.32 WHIP and 15/10 K/BB ratio that tell the story of a pitcher still looking for his groove.

That makes Wednesday's start -- his last before next Monday's trade deadline, for what it's worth -- an important one for everyone involved. We'll see if Clevinger can, for once this season, meet the moment.

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