CHICAGO — There’s no denying the crushing nature of Monday’s late-inning loss for the White Sox to the Guardians.
Heartbreaking. Painful. Almost startling.
“We’re in a spot where we can self-evaluate very well,” said White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito after the club’s seventh win in eight games put them at 15-14. “We didn’t have to say anything, we didn’t have to have a meeting. We didn’t have to have anything after that game.
“We knew coming in today what we needed to improve, what we needed to do: be ready to play hard for nine innings, and that’s what we did. I tip the cap to all the guys behind me today.”
Giolito allowed one run over seven innings, striking out five and lowering his ERA to 0.92 in his past nine starts against Cleveland. But the White Sox defense, which committed four errors Monday to raise the season miscue total to 26, was stellar behind the right-hander.
Shortstop Tim Anderson, second baseman Josh Harrison and first baseman José Abreu even turned a rare 6-4-3 double play on a Franmil Reyers grounder in the fourth. Rare in that there was no force at second on the play, but Anderson caught Owen Miller leaning too far off second, and Harrison nailed Reyes at first after applying the tag on Miller.
“I saw him kind of leak towards my way and I knew I had a shot to get him,” Anderson said. “It was just a matter of if the throw was good and it was good and J did the rest.”
Let’s go back to Giolito. He is the ace of the White Sox staff, the Opening Day starter. He also understood the importance of going deep into Tuesday’s game after the 11-inning setback Monday.
That seven-inning effort, coupled with six strong innings from Dallas Keuchel on Sunday and six dominant innings from Michael Kopech on Monday, show the rotation rounding into form as the schedule moves deeper into May.
“Absolutely. We’re feeding off each other,” said Giolito, who threw 91 pitches. “Each day the starter for the next day is getting a little bit inspired to go out and do his thing as well and keep the ball rolling. Really, really good energy. We’ve just got to keep that up.”
“He’s a good pitcher. He’s had a lot of success for a reason and today he went out and just executed,” said Cleveland catcher Austin Hedges of Giolito. “And when good pitchers go out and especially when they’re executing their fastball, they can make it tough. When you have to respect a good fastball, they can throw the offspeed off it. It can be tough.”
Gavin Sheets homered for a second straight game, taking advantage of the warmer weather and a more relaxed approach at the plate adopted after a talk with manager Tony La Russa prior to Monday’s game. Anderson had three hits and two RBIs, and Kendall Graveman closed out the victory for his second save.
This win didn’t end without a little drama. With two runners on and two outs in the ninth, Andrés Giménez hit a grounder fielded by Abreu who stumbled before rushing to first. He decided to slide feet first into the base instead of flipping to Graveman, with the original safe call loading the bases and bringing the winning run to the plate.
La Russa challenged the call and it was overturned, giving the White Sox their first victory this season over the Guardians after four previous losses.
“The hoping part of my brain was way overwhelming the reality of what I saw,” said La Russa of the challenge. “I couldn’t tell, I was just hoping. But our replay guy thought that he beat him.”
“Yeah, we won the game. He got there,” said a smiling Anderson. “He got there for sure.”
Wednesday’s afternoon contest will decide the series. The White Sox made that rubber game possible by forgetting about Monday’s loss when they took the field Tuesday.
“Everybody knew,” Anderson said. “Last night didn’t go too well, but today is a new day so let’s not talk about last night. Let’s talk about tonight. We won.”
“Today was super important,” Sheets said. “All you can do is bounce back, and that’s what we did. It’s a difference when we went through that skid, we weren’t bouncing back and today we did exactly what we needed to do and a huge win for us.”