NO-NO MORE PROOF THAT SOX HAVE AR­RIVED

Gi­olito’s no-hit­ter just lat­est feat in sea­son full of ex­cit­ing ex­ploits by wildly en­ter­tain­ing Sox

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - RICK MOR­RIS­SEY rmor­ris­sey@sun­times.com | @Mor­ris­seyCST

The White Sox’ en­ter­tain­ment value is ab­surd these days. Just ab­surd.

On Tues­day night, it was Lu­cas Gi­olito’s turn to cap­ti­vate the masses. All that tal­ent of his co­a­lesced in nine in­nings of near per­fec­tion, a 13-strike­out, onewalk no-hit­ter against the Pi­rates at Guar­an­teed Rate Field.

For the Sox, the hits just keep com­ing, with each day seem­ing to bring a new homage to youth and tal­ent and the spe­cial gift of not know­ing any bet­ter. If it’s not Gi­olito’s 4-0, no-hit vic­tory, it’s Jose Abreu’s home run-alooza against the Cubs. If it’s not the Sox’ four straight home runs in a game against the Car­di­nals, it’s their six home runs in a game against the Tigers a day later.

All that in a 10-day span. In­sane fun.

Sox tick­ets are im­pos­si­ble to get. OK, bad COVID-19 joke, but thank good­ness for this team in these dark times. And thank good­ness for Gi­olito on a warm Chicago night with no­body in the stands be­cause of a stupid pan­demic that has worn out a wel­come it never got in the first place.

Gi­olito threw 101 pitches. Pi­rates bat­ters swung and missed at 30 of them. In words, that stat is a hit­ter say­ing, “Your guess is as good as mine.’’ Gi­olito threw heat. He threw break­ing balls that ini­tially looked like wa­ter but turned out to be a dry, dusty mirage.

He’s the son of an ac­tress and the grand­son of an ac­tor, so it makes sense that the last out, a real cliffhange­r, would be slathered with cli­mac­tic ten­sion. On an 0-2 count, the Pi­rates’ Erik Gon­za­lez ripped a low line drive to right. The ball was struck on the meat of the bat, and it had “no

hit­ter buz­zkill’’ writ­ten all over it.

Upon con­tact, Gi­olito’s body lan­guage spoke of de­feat and res­ig­na­tion, but his body didn’t know what it was talk­ing about. Adam En­gel got a great jump and made a dif­fi­cult play look fairly easy, bend­ing low to snag the ball out of the air. Gi­olito had his no-hit­ter, sta­tis­ti­cally per­haps the most dom­i­nant in team his­tory, though Mark Buehrle’s two-hour, three-minute per­fect game in 2009 might beg to dif­fer.

These Sox. Af­ter all they put their fan base through dur­ing a painful re­build, now they de­liver with a 10-day epic saga that makes you fully un­der­stand what all the fuss is about. All this tal­ent — Gi­olito, Abreu, Tim An­der­son, Luis Robert. Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Mon­cada, etc. Dy­lan Cease has put to­gether five good starts. Cease is young, right? Well, the 26-year-old Gi­olito is only a year and a half older.

The Sox lead the ma­jors with a .267 bat­ting av­er­age and a .479 slug­ging per­cent­age.

So many good things go­ing on here. I’m al­ready think­ing about next year’s pos­si­bil­i­ties, and I should prob­a­bly stop that. This year’s re­al­i­ties are more than enough. Beat­ing the Cubs two out of three was fur­ther ev­i­dence of a team head­ing into or­bit, with Abreu ap­par­ently mis­tak­ing the Crosstown Clas­sic for the Home Run Derby. He hit six homers in the se­ries and was named Amer­i­can League Player of the Week.

Even baseball trans­gres­sions are ridicu­lously en­ter­tain­ing with these guys. On Aug. 17, Robert strayed far from cen­ter field into left to catch a ball so clearly Jimenez’s that, if the mat­ter had gone to court, a jury would have found him guilty of felony tres­pass­ing. And Jimenez played the mo­ment per­fectly, never mov­ing and giv­ing Robert a long “you’ve got to be kid­ding me’’ stare. Robert laughed. When you’re young, ei­ther things fit or you make them fit. That’s all.

Gi­olito didn’t get the in-house cel­e­bra­tion he de­served. Team­mates swarmed him af­ter the last out, but there were no fans in at­ten­dance to watch it, un­less you count the card­board cutouts, and if you do, stop.

“They turned up the crowd noise,” Gi­olito told MLB Net­work, laugh­ing. “It felt like ev­ery sin­gle in­ning, the crowd noise got louder. By the ninth in­ning, the crowd noise got crazy. It felt like there were 35,000 peo­ple here.”

It has been a strange year. We de­serve a won­der­ful story like the Sox. The vic­tory Tues­day was the eighth in their pre­vi­ous 10 games. But it’s not just the win­ning that’s won­der­ful. It’s the way they’re do­ing it, with mighty swings and grand, over­sized per­for­mances. It’s great fun, and it’s con­ta­gious, the good kind of con­ta­gious.

So you do what you have to do each day dur­ing the pan­demic, and you wait to see what this team will do next. You shake your head at all of it. You smile at the good parts.

These Sox. Ab­surdly en­ter­tain­ing.

MATT MARTON/AP

Lu­cas Gi­olito cel­e­brates with catcher James Mc­Cann af­ter clos­ing out his no­hit­ter against the Pi­rates on Tues­day at Guar­an­teed Rate Field.

MATT MARTON/AP

Lu­cas Gi­olito had 13 strike­outs in the no-hit­ter against the Pi­rates. In his pre­vi­ous out­ing against the Tigers, he also struck out 13 bat­ters.

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