Giolito pitches first no-hitter of year; White Sox top Pirates

1 Comment

CHICAGO — Lucas Giolito quietly walked to the mound for the ninth inning, piped-in fake crowd noise wafting through the ballpark and cardboard cutouts dotting the stands.

Moments later, the Chicago White Sox right-hander threw the final pitch in a truly bizarre performance.

A no-fan no-no.

With the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field empty, Giolito pitched the first no-hitter of the pandemic-delayed season, striking out 13 in leading the White Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Tuesday night.

“2020 has been a very strange year,” said Giolito, who conducted a postgame interview while wearing a mask. “Obviously a lot of weird stuff going on with COVID and the state of the world, so may as well throw this in the mix.”

Sounds like he didn’t mind that nobody saw it. Well, almost no one.

After right fielder Adam Engel extended on the run to catch Erik Gonzalez‘s slicing drive toward the line for the final out, the hollers of Giolito’s teammates in the middle of the diamond echoed around the stadium.

“I’m just stoked for Lucas and so happy and ecstatic and emotional for Lucas,” Engel said. “It stinks we couldn’t celebrate the way most no-hitters get celebrated.”

The smallest crowd listed for any no-hitter in the majors over the last 100 years came in 1944, when a mere 1,014 watched Cincinnati’s Clyde Shoun beat the Braves at Crosley Field.

Nowhere close to that number on this night, not with the park that holds over 40,000 closed to fans because of virus protocols.

Suffice to say, years from now when White Sox fans fondly remember Giolito’s gem, there will not be, say, 100,000 or so people claiming they were there to see it in person.

At one point early in the game, some members of grounds crew drifted in sight, but that was about it outside of the teams.

An All-Star last year, the 26-year-old Giolito (3-2) matched his career high for strikeouts set in his previous start against Detroit.

Only a four-pitch walk to Gonzalez leading off the fourth inning got in Giolito’s way of perfection. That was only runner he permitted while throwing 101 pitches

“I’ve been working for this type of game for a while now and it’s really cool that we got it done,” Giolito said.

Giolito relied on his changeup and fastball to make quick work of the Pirates, who came into the game batting just .229 and have the worst record in the majors. Six of their starters finished the game hitting under .199 this season.

The White Sox rushed toward the mound after the final out in Giolito’s first career no-hitter. Giolito hugged catcher James McCann as the Chicago players joined the party.

The South Side of Chicago normally rattles with fireworks after a home win — this is the club that gave the game the exploding scoreboard — but the park remained silent as the dugout emptied.

Giolito, meanwhile, was locked in his own zone in the later innings, fully aware of what was at stake.

“After the seventh, six more outs, looking at who I was facing, became very, very, very possible,” he said, “and then we were able to get it done.”

Giolito said his approach never wavered.

“Just staying with the same, like, mental routine for every single pitch. One pitch at a time. Full focus, full execution, straight through the target,” he said.

Giolito pitched the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history – second most to the Dodgers’ 23 – and first since Philip Humber threw a perfect game at Seattle in 2012. This was the seventh time the Pirates have been held hitless, with Washington’s Max Scherzer having done it in 2015.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson made a nifty play on a grounder by Bryan Reynolds up the middle in the seventh to preserve the gem, helped by first baseman Jose Abreu‘s stretch at the bag.

In the ninth, Gonzalez hit a liner that Engel, a fleet center fielder for most of his career, caught on the run at knee-high height.

“Yeah man, I think I got it,” Gonzalez said. “With that at-bat, I was a little bit mad because I don’t want to be part of history.”

Giolito improved to 30-28 in his big league career. He made his debut with Washington in 2016, then was traded after that season to the White Sox in a package for outfielder Adam Eaton.

Giolito gave up a major league-high 118 earned runs in 2018, his first full season in Chicago.

“I was pretty much bottom of the league in almost every stat,” Giolito said. “I kind of had to … learn from failure to learn my true potential.”

He added: “I always envisioned that I’d throw a no-hitter in the big leagues.”

Giolito threw the first no-hitter at Guaranteed Rate Field since Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano did it in 2011.

The White Sox, who’ve won eight of their last nine, ended the Pirates’ season-best winning streak at three games.

Giolito was dominant in his previous start, too, fanning 13 against Detroit and allowing just three hits in seven innings. The victory over Pittsburgh was his third career shutout.

Chicago’s first three batters reached in the second and all three came home one at a time after Engel’s groundout and singles Anderson and Eloy Jimenez. McCann added a sacrifice fly in the third off Steven Brault (0-1).

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: RH reliever Keone Kela was available to pitch after leaving Friday’s loss to Milwaukee with forearm tightness. . Infielders Colin Moran (collision) and Kevin Newman (abdomen) also were on the bench after leaving Sunday’s game.

White Sox: McCann stayed in the game after being struck near his left hand by a second-inning pitch from Brault. … Jimenez appeared to be getting treatment near the mound after the celebration, but manager Rick Renteria said he walked off under his own power.

UP NEXT

LHP Dallas Keuchel (4-2, 2.65) looks for his third straight win Wednesday afternoon against Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (1-4, 3.70).

Rays beat Mets 8-5, clinch 1st AL East title in 10 years

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) Confetti instead of champagne. Silly string instead of beer.

The Tampa Bay Rays, long accustomed to doing more with less, figured out a way to maximize the division-clinching celebration they were allowed to enjoy during a 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus.

Randy Arozarena homered twice and the Rays clinched their first AL East title in 10 years Wednesday night with an 8-5 victory over the New York Mets.

“I’m completely dry right now, which I’m not a huge fan of,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Rays player, said with a grin. “But you have to adapt to what we’re asked of.”

With teams instructed to celebrate in a muted and socially distant style, the Rays went old school – or maybe elementary school – with their clinching party.

The team filed slowly onto the field after Nick Anderson fanned Andres Gimenez for the final out. A couple of players shot off canisters filled with confetti that eventually dotted the grass and dirt at Citi Field. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged before the Rays doused one another with silly string and lit some cigars in the visiting clubhouse.

Later, hooting and hollering could be heard from the visitors’ dugout.

“We’re little kids trapped in grown men’s bodies,” Kiermaier said.

Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe also went deep for the Rays to back Tyler Glasnow‘s six solid innings. Tampa Bay will be home at quirky Tropicana Field for a best-of-three first-round playoff series beginning next Tuesday.

It is the third division crown for the thrifty Rays, whose payroll this season is just over $28 million – more than only the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay, which began play in 1998, also won the AL East, home of two big-spending powers in the Yankees and Red Sox, in 2008 and 2010.

“It feels great to win the division, no matter what division you’re in,” Kiermaier said. “But especially the American League East – it’s just a different animal.”

After missing a chance to clinch Tuesday, the Rays went into Wednesday again needing just a win or a Yankees loss against Toronto to lock up the division championship.

The Rays (37-20) broke a 2-all tie in the sixth on Arozarena’s two-run homer off Michael Wacha and pulled away, taking care of business themselves while New York was routed 14-1 by the Blue Jays.

“At the end of the day, a clinch is a clinch,” said Wendle, who homered in the second. “But to do it on a win – everybody’s kind of riding the high of winning the game along with the division. We didn’t want to see it come down to them losing a game.”

Tampa Bay also is closing in on wrapping up the top record in the AL and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Lowe, who had an RBI fielder’s choice in the third, hit a two-run homer in the eighth. Willy Adames added an RBI single later in the inning and Arozarena homered again in the ninth.

The insurance came in handy for the Rays when the Mets scored three times off Oliver Drake in the ninth – via an RBI groundout by Robinson Cano and a two-run homer by Todd Frazier – before Anderson closed the door.

“I think we had the game pretty much in control (and) certainly recognized what was going on in Buffalo, but I don’t know if you can ever prepare for a moment like that – it’s pretty special,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Glasnow (5-1) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

Gimenez and Dominic Smith homered off Glasnow in the final home game of the season for the Mets, whose long-shot playoff hopes were further damaged with the loss. New York began the day 2 1/2 games out of an NL wild-card spot.

“We still have a shot with the four games left and we’re competing,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We’ve just got to do what we do – just keep fighting like we did in the ninth.”

Wacha allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four in six innings.

STABLE SHIRT

Rays pitcher Charlie Morton sported a T-shirt picturing a stable of horses as he spoke with reporters during a pregame Zoom call. Morton did little to discourage the notion the shirt was inspired by Cash’s viral rant earlier this month, when he declared the Rays have “a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph” after Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman threw near Mike Brousseau’s head in the ninth inning Sept. 4.

“The stable shirt?” Morton said. “It was in my locker last week and I like horses.”

With a grin obviously growing even behind his Rays mask, Morton said he rode horses as a kid.

“So I was ecstatic to see this shirt in my locker and I wore it,” he said.

As for the fireballers on the Rays’ pitching staff?

“We’ve got some guys that throw really hard,” Morton said.

ANOTHER LOSING SEASON

The loss guaranteed the Mets (25-31) will finish with a sub-.500 record for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons – a total matched or exceeded only by the Chicago White Sox (nine), Miami Marlins (10) and San Diego Padres (10). The White Sox and Padres have already clinched playoff spots and a winning record, while the Marlins are in second place in the NL East.

New York made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 and went 86-76 last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: LHP Jose Alvarado (shoulder, lat) is scheduled to throw batting practice to 3B Yandy Diaz (hamstring) and 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) at Tropicana Field on Thursday. Cash said all three players are progressing and he hopes they are available for the playoffs. . Brousseau (oblique) missed a fourth consecutive game. Cash said he would have been available off the bench if needed

Mets: RF Michael Conforto (hamstring) returned to the lineup as the designated hitter after missing two games and went 0 for 4. . The Mets activated RHP Dellin Betances (lat), who last pitched Aug. 29, and optioned RHP Corey Oswalt to the alternate site.

UP NEXT

Rays: After a day off Thursday, Morton (2-2, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to get his postseason tuneup in the opener of a series against the Phillies on Friday.

Mets: Rookie LHP David Peterson (5-2, 3.80 ERA) opens a four-game road series against the Nationals. Peterson struck out a career-high 10 against the Braves last Saturday.