Amati and Stradivarius. Leonardo and Michelangelo. Giolito and Bieber.
Classic matchups, all.
It isn’t often you call a game a classic pitchers’ duel and it actually happens, but when it does, it sure is fun to watch. Okay, the ending wasn’t fun this time, but it didn’t happen while the masters were at work.
Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber both were masters of the pitching art, achieving terrific results. Giolito just needed a few more pitches sooner, and had to leave the game earlier as a result. But, boy, what pitches they were.
Giolito’s line (seven scoreless innings, three hits, two walks, eight Ks), came almost completely off of fastballs and changeups, though he threw a few early sliders. Only one runner got to second base against him. That was Eddie Rosario, who doubled to lead off the second but moved no further along. José Ramírez did smash a 105.3 mph shot toward first with a runner on in the sixth — the hardest-hit ball of the night for either team — but José Abreu knocked it down on a short hop and got the out.
But Lucas had thrown 101 pitches, 73 of them strikes, through seven, and when he started off the eighth with a six-pitch walk to Roberto Perez, Tony La Russa went to the pen in the person of Evan Marshall, who was masterful for the second night in a row.
Meanwhile, Bieber cruised through eight on only 86 pitches, 67 of them strikes, almost all fastballs and curves, and looked to be good through dawn if need be. But he started struggling in the ninth. Yermín Mercedes just missed a bloop double to right that was foul by an inch or two, but then grounded out, Adam Eaton singled, and, after a Luis Robert fly to right, Abreu got the first Bieber walk of the night (Shane had hit Eaton on the toe earlier). But a Yoán Moncada K on four straight knuckle curves led to your basic 2021 10th-inning-runner-on-second weirdness.
The ninth took 27 pitches and ended Bieber’s night with a line of nine scoreless innings on three hits, a walk and 11 Ks — none of those strikeouts from the first time through the order, but then five in a row, so, so much for time-through-the-order believers And until the ninth, Bieber never bothered to get Sox hopes up by going to three balls on a batter. The Sox problems with runners in scoring position didn’t matter, because until the ninth they didn’t have one.
Liam Hendricks cruised through the ninth on 13 pitches, so, naturally, he wasn’t brought back out for the 10th because...uh, well, because, uh, who knows? Instead Garrett Crochet came in, to be met with a catcher’s interference that put runners at first and third. He got a shallow fly out, then Roberto Perez’s soft infield single in the hole produced one run, and Amed Rosario’s double in the gap made it 2-0. Matt Foster took over and got two outs, but it was too late.
The Sox started the 10th with Moncada on second, but James Karinchak wasn’t quite wild enough to help, as he struck out Nick Williams and got a ground out from Yasmani Grandal. Jake Lamb hit a 3-2 pitch deep to right which Statcast measured at 345 feet. One problem, though, he needed about 355. Or maybe just 352. And that was that.
It was a terrific night for fans of great pitching and great pitchers, despite the outcome. But if you were looking for Sox hitting highlights, you’ll need to keep looking until tomorrow night. Three singles in 10 innings don’t inspire video.
The series is now tied 1-1, with tomorrow night’s 7:10 p.m. Central game featuring Carlos Rodón, recovered from stomach problems that had him miss his normal turn in the rotation on Sudnay, against righty Zach Plesac, who unfortunately isn’t usually much more generous to Sox hitters than was Bieber. Bill Meincke has your SSS coverage.