Lucas Giolito released a brief yell of delight and marched quickly back to the dugout, his work day going just brilliantly for the Chicago White Sox.
Giolito simply dazzled in his postseason debut, stymieing the Oakland Athletics through six perfect innings and sending the White Sox to a 4-1 victory in the opener of their best-of-three wild-card series Tuesday.
“Unreal. Unreal to watch. Unreal to be behind him," shortstop Tim Anderson said. “He put the work in. When you set yourself apart to put the work in and want to be a superstar, you want to be that dominant. The work is showing. Happy for him and hopefully he can keep it up and continue to grow as a player and as a person. He’s our guy. I expect nothing but that from him.”
It also brought back memories of Giolito's no-hitter against Pittsburgh on Aug. 25.
“It was a different feel though because throwing a perfect game, no-hitter is a great personal accomplishment, but we’re in the playoffs, the goal is to win the game,” Giolito said. “For me it was all about I’m going to give the team the best possible chance to come out on top after nine innings.”
On Tuesday, he didn’t allow a baserunner to the AL West champions until Tommy La Stella's single up the middle to start the seventh. Giolito gave up one run on two hits over seven innings, struck out eight and walked one before giving way to Evan Marshall after a stellar 100-pitch outing.
“Pretty cool,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It was neat to see.”
Giolito got plenty of support: José Abreu hit a two-run homer and Adam Engel also connected for Chicago. Yasmani Grandal homered in the eighth.
Alex Colome, Chicago's third reliever, worked the ninth for a save to close out the 2-hour, 53-minute game.
Before the single by La Stella, Jake Lamb’s line drive to center in the fifth was the hardest-hit ball against Giolito by the powerful A's, whose offense struggled down the stretch.
Now, Oakland must win Game 2 on Wednesday at home to avoid another early playoff exit.
The A's are in the postseason for a third straight year. They lost in the AL wild card game each of the past two seasons after 97 wins both times.
Oakland advanced just once during 11 previous playoff trips since 2000, reaching the 2006 AL Championship Series before being swept by Detroit.
“We have no choice tomorrow. That’s the way we’ve been here for a while now. We wanted a series. We lost the first game of it. Now it’s time for us to respond tomorrow,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re going to have to do more offensively. We can’t score one run and think that we’re going to win tomorrow and put that much pressure on the starter.”
Ramón Laureano's groundout in the eighth scored Oakland's lone run.
Engel crushed an 0-2 fastball for a 1-0 lead in the second, and Abreu homered in the third against 22-year-old lefty Jesús Luzardo.
Chicago had put runners on first and third in the initial inning after Abreu's two-out single but Luzardo struck out James McCann to get out of it.
Engel's fourth-inning double chased Luzardo, who took the loss.
“They capitalized on those two mistakes," Luzardo said. "I feel like my pitching was pretty good other than that.”
Chicago has thrived against lefty starters, going 14-0 during the regular season when facing a southpaw.
That prompted Anderson to say of Luzardo getting the ball in Game 1, “I guess they haven’t done their homework.” After the game, Anderson said, “We know what we do to lefties.”
Chicago was eager for a fresh start in the playoffs after losing seven of eight at the end of the regular season, two on walk-offs.
The White Sox snapped a string of seven consecutive losing seasons to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008, when they won the AL Central and lost to Tampa Bay 3-1 in the Division Series.
“This is something we’ve been waiting for for a while now,” Engel said.
A LITTLE HISTORY
The late Roy Halladay of the Phillies in 2010 threw a perfect game in the regular season and then tossed a no-hitter against the Reds in the playoffs — the only person to have a regular-season and postseason no-hitter in the same year.
Halladay and Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series against Brooklyn, have the only two postseason no-hitters.
Wednesday will be another noon local time start. Melvin acknowledged not liking the early first pitch.
No big deal for the White Sox, apparently.
Wednesday starter Dallas Keuchel called his team “calm and collected” and said the White Sox “have a lot more fun at 9 a.m. than I ever thought we could.”
White Sox: LF Eloy Jiménez wasn't ready for Game 1 as he works back from a sprained right foot that kept him out of the final three games. Jiménez went through extensive baseball work Monday and still had some discomfort.
Renteria wasn't ready to guess about Jiménez's status for Wednesday.
LHP Keuchel (6-2, 1.99 ERA) pitches Wednesday following a successful first season with Chicago.
RHP Chris Bassitt, drafted by the White Sox before being traded to Oakland in December 2014, takes the ball for the A's with victories in his last three decisions. Oakland kept six starting pitchers on the roster.
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