Giolito's impressive run hits the brakes at Wrigley
Following their best win of the season, the Chicago White Sox were looking to double down Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
And with the hottest starting pitcher in baseball taking the mound, they looked perfectly positioned to pin another loss on the crosstown Cubs.
Eloy Jimenez stepped up and delivered for the Sox in Tuesday's interleague opener, cracking his bat and still managing to muscle out a 2-run homer in the ninth inning to snap a 1-1 tie.
Lucas Giolito was not able to follow suit in the heroics department.
"I got hit hard," the White Sox's new ace said after the Cubs jumped on him early and went on to win 7-3. "That was the hardest I've been hit in a long time."
This was not the 2018 Giolito talking, the one who had the highest ERA (6.13) in the major leagues.
This was the 2019 Giolito, the one who came in with the lowest ERA (2.22) and the most wins (10) in the American League.
The 24-year-old righty also faced the Cubs with a nine-game winning streak and was 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 3 June starts.
"It was a tough outing for Lucas today," manager Rick Renteria said.
Giolito's remarkable turnaround was bound to hit a bump at some point, and the alarm sounded at chilly, drizzly Wrigley.
Kyle Schwarber doubled on Giolito's first pitch of the game and, after Kris Bryant struck out swinging, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez walked to load the bases.
That brought Willson Contreras to the plate, and the Cubs' catcher hit a grand slam to left field on a 1-2 changeup that stayed up in the zone.
That put the Sox in an early 4-1 hole -- Leury Garcia homered on Jon Lester's first pitch leading off the game -- and was a reminder of how good Giolito was coming in.
Over his last 5 starts, a total of 38 innings, Giolito allowed only 4 total runs.
"Hung a changeup in the first inning, two walks in the first inning," Giolito said. "I just have to do a better job of competing in the first inning. I got a run and then went out there and gave up four, unacceptable in my book. Just not competing to my best ability. Didn't have my best stuff, but it hasn't stopped me from pitching well. Just left too many balls up, missing high and arm side."
Giolito was able to regroup a bit after Contreras's slam. He wound up with 9 strikeouts while allowing 6 runs on 7 hits in 4⅓ innings, but the outing wasn't anywhere close to his recent standards.
"I thought my fastball had good life, but I was letting too many get away," Giolito said. "I was flying open a little bit. Just need to be a little more consistent, got to get it in there. I think that if I commanded my fastball better, even though my changeup wasn't good, I think it would've made the changeup better."