This night, it was perfectly fine to violate all of baseball’s health and safety protocols, but instead of going out for beers on the town Tuesday evening, the Chicago White threw a party that reverberated throughout the baseball world.
White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who comes from a movie family, just wrote one of baseball’s finest Hollywood scripts, pitching the first no-hitter in the pandemic season of 2020, and the first by a pitcher who ever had an ERA of 6.00 or higher in a previous season.
“2020 has been a very strange year,’’ Giolito said. “Obviously, a lot of weird stuff going on. COVID. The state of the world. Might as well just throw this in the mix too.’’
This is a man who just two years ago had the worst ERA in all of baseball, and on this night, put on one of the most magnificent pitching performances in baseball season, striking out a career-high 13 batters, generating 30 swings and misses, and only one walk away from a perfect game.
“It’s crazy, man,’’ Giolito said. “The weird thing is I always envisioned I’d throw a no hitter.
“If you asked me in 2018 [10-13, 6.13 ERA], I’d say, 'What the hell you talking about?' It’s just a product of hard work, determination, trusting my stuff, trusting myself. … I knew it was in there.’’
It was the first no-hitter in baseball history with no fans in the crowd, but you could still hear the screaming and cheering from his teammates, with catcher James McCann giving him a bear hug, and his teammates gathering around him on the mound.
Lucas Giolito (27) doused with water after his no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Photo: Quinn Harris, USA TODAY Sports)
“Unfortunately, we’re in a really weird era with the virus,’’ said White Sox right fielder Adam Engel, who made a dazzling running catch on Erik Gonzalez’s sinking liner to preserve the 4-0 no-hitter over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It stinks we can’t celebrate the way most no-hitters and perfect games are celebrated.
“We are all just so stoked for Lucas. So happy and ecstatic. Very emotional.’’
Giolito, who was doused in a beer shower after game, was emotional nearly an hour after the game meeting with reporters on a Zoom call.
This, after all, is a guy the Washington Nationals gave up on when they sent him packing to Chicago in the winter of 2016 in the Adam Eaton trade. The Nationals simply never believed he’d live up to the promise. The White Sox couldn’t help but have their doubts, not only watching Giolito give up a major-league leading 118 earned runs, but walking a league-high 90 batters.
“I was getting my ass kicked over and over again,’’ Giolito said. “I was probably pretty much the bottom in the league in every stat. I kind of had to get my ass kicked, learn from failure, and make the changes.
“I needed to learn my true potential.’’
He’ll forever remember White Sox manager Rick Renteria being in the hotel elevator one night, Renteria patting him on the back, and whispering to him, “I know you’re going to be an All-Star one day. I know you’re going to be an All-Star.’’
"In ‘18," Giolito said, “I had no situational confidence. I wasn’t confident in myself. I was searching. I was anxious, but I knew through it all, a really, really good pitcher was in there somewhere.’’
One year later, Giolito become an All-Star.
On Tuesday, he put himself in the record books, becoming the 19th White Sox pitcher to throw a no-hitter, and the first to strike out 10 or more batters in a no-hitter.
“I don’t have any words,’’ Renteria said. “I want to cry.’’
Baseball, man, who can figure out this game?
Giolito never showed any signs of anxiety, and when the sixth inning came and went, he started counting the outs, believing in his heart he would do it.
“I never felt nervous,’’ he said. “I felt in control. It started to become very real after the sixth inning and the seventh inning. And going out in the ninth inning, didn’t feel any different.
“I did notice that guys weren’t interacting really with me.’’
What he didn’t realize was that his wife, Ariana, who was home, wasn’t talking to anyone either. When a friend excitedly called her in the eighth inning to talk about the no-hitter, Giolito said, she threw her phone away.
And every White Sox fan sitting at home was ready to throw their remote control at their TV, too, when it looked like Gonzalez’s sinking liner was going to spoil the no-hitter only for Engel to have him played perfectly and make the running catch.
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Lights out in the park. Lights out on the mound. pic.twitter.com/mdSyyZ6j3x
“I don’t think I held my breath like that in a really long time,’’ said McCann, who had never caught a no-hitter in his career, coming within three outs with Justin Verlander in 2015 with the Detroit Tigers. "I didn’t really want to watch it.’’
It all made for the perfect Hollywood script right?
After all, Giolito grew up in the movie business. Giolito’s mom, Lindsay Frost, appeared in 49 different movies and TV series, from “As the World Turns’’ to “Hill Street Blues“ to "Crossing Jordan.’’ His father, Rick Giolito, played in the movie “Hit the Dutchman,’’ and TV series such as “Who’s the Boss,’’ “Hunter’’ and “Jake and the Fatman.’’ His late grandfather, Warren Frost, appeared in five Seinfeld episodes as the father of George Costanza’s fiancée. His uncle, Mark Frost, was the co-creator of “Twin Peaks,’’ and another uncle Scott, was a writer.
Giolito still has the purple lightsaber sword given to him by Samuel L. Jackson from his role in "Star Wars."
Now, here he is, showing what Hollywood is all about, able to overcome all of the failures, diminished confidence and heightened frustration.
“I still think we all believed in Lucas, even when he was at his lowest,’’ Engle said. “You see him work. His attitude. His competitive edge. Eventually, he’s going to put it all together.
“Nights like tonight, it doesn’t shock me at all.’’
Hollywood baby, where all your dreams can come true.
Just ask Giolito.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale on Twitter @BNightengale.
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