The Chicago White Sox began their five-game series at the Cleveland Indians by clinching their first AL Central Division title in 13 years.
They hope to wrap up the series on Sunday afternoon on a high note as well.
The White Sox didn’t leave a good impression on manager Tony La Russa on Saturday night after they were shut out 6-0 by the Indians (76-78).
Chicago (87-68) managed just one hit in the first six innings against rookie right-hander Eli Morgan, who came in with a 5.68 ERA, and the White Sox didn’t accomplish much against the Cleveland bullpen either.
“We were back on our heels, the other team beat us to the punch offensively and defensively,” La Russa said. “That’s not how we play.”
The White Sox hope to get back on track behind right-hander Lucas Giolito, who threw a no-hitter last season and made the AL All Star team in 2019.
Giolito (10-9, 3.70 ERA) said he plans to use his final two outings of the regular season to further sharpen his command and control after spending two weeks on the injured list earlier this month with a strained hamstring.
He won his first game in more than a month in his most recent outing on Sept. 19, allowing one run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-2 win against the Texas Rangers.
“It was a good step forward from the last one,” Giolito said. “Just continue to get more and more comfortable coming back off the IL.”
Giolito raised his pitch count to 97 against the Rangers after throwing 87 five days earlier against the Los Angeles Angels in his return from the injured list.
“It felt good to get the pitch count a little bit higher,” Giolito said. “Looking to stay in that same area, in the high 90s, low 100s, right up until playoffs.”
Giolito said the best aspect of his stint on the injured list was it allowed his body some extended rest.
“That injury wasn’t really much of anything to begin with, so I feel like I’m in a really good spot,” he said. “Just building up the last two (starts) and going to be really strong going into these last couple weeks and playoffs.”
Giolito has pitched well against Cleveland in both meetings this season, but doesn’t have a win to show for those efforts.
He threw seven shutout innings against the Indians on April 13, but the White Sox lost 2-0 in 10 innings.
Giolito gave up two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings on May 2, but once again received no run support in the 5-0 loss.
Giolito is 2-3 in nine career starts overall against Cleveland with a 2.21 ERA.
The Indians plan to send another rookie right-hander to the mound in the series finale.
Triston McKenzie (5-7, 4.67) is coming off his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 7-2 loss in a seven-inning game to the Kansas City Royals on Monday.
He gave up three home runs after not allowing the long ball in his previous five starts.
It was also the first time in seven starts he didn’t pitch at least six innings and allow three runs or fewer.
McKenzie said he simply left some pitches up in the zone and the Royals took advantage.
“This game is all about adjustments,” McKenzie said. “I felt like (Monday) I just didn’t make them quick enough.”
–Field Level Media