White Sox' Tony La Russa defends Lucas Giolito's two-homer outing

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Giolito gives up two homers, gets defense from La Russa originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Lucas Giolito did not have a good day. Regardless of what you thought of his performance, that much was clear from his mood in his postgame media session.

"I mean, I gave up five runs," he said. "We had a nice winning streak. Now it's over.

"I thought I threw the ball well. But you know, three-run homer, two-run homer, it's not good."

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Indeed, few would classify that as a good day, surrendering five runs on a pair of multi-run homers. But as in all things, context is key. And that's what Tony La Russa would like you to remember.

From purely a results standpoint, Giolito's season has not been the kind expected from the ace of a staff with championship aspirations. After showing he could be one of the most dominant pitchers in the sport with a no-hitter and a perfecto bid in the playoffs last year, Giolito has an ERA just a smidge south of 5.00 following his eighth start of the season.

But a sweeping generalization that there's something wrong with the White Sox top starter is not exactly on point.

Every pitcher's allowed a clunker like the one he had at Fenway Park, when he was clobbered for eight runs and got only three outs. La Russa then took responsibility for not getting Giolito out of his following start against the Detroit Tigers, another sour outing that added four runs to his season total.

Then came Friday, three starts later, when his bulky run total was the result of a pair of home runs that cleared the right-field fence by something like a combined foot and a half. The wind can't exactly be blamed for the other six base runners he allowed in six innings. But it was clearly the difference between a couple of fly outs and a couple of game-deciding home runs.

So with those wind-aided game-changers fresh in his memory, La Russa jumped to Giolito's defense when presented with the suggestion that his ace hasn't been at his most dominant of late.

"What wasn't dominant about him today? How many hits did he give up? I thought he was dominant," La Russa said. "He got two fly balls that equaled five runs.

"This is America, you can evaluate whatever you want to. But if the wind catches two balls and the result is that he didn't pitch well, then I would disagree.

"I thought he pitched well enough to win. I give (the Kansas City Royals) credit for getting the ball in the air in that corner, but don't take anything away from how well he pitched. I think that's a mistake."

All that context is not unimportant, and while the results haven't been what you'd expect from Giolito, there are explanations for some of his uncharacteristic outings.

But Giolito, of course, is just as bummed about how things are going as anyone, the results hard for him to ignore.

"I just need to stay focused on my process," he said. "I'm doing everything in my power to prepare. I'm going into these games very confident, and that's all I can do, control what I can control.

"I got more swings and misses (Friday), my stuff felt better, throwing a little harder. We found a mechanical adjustment earlier this week that works for me. I carried that into the game.

"I felt pretty good, but the results weren't good. So that sucks."

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