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Giolito’s no-hitter comes at perfect time

By Tim Dahlberg

The Associated Press

Midway through a season most of us will eventually try to forget, Lucas Giolito reminded us why so many wanted baseball back to begin with.

His no-hitter Tuesday night in Chicago was certainly the quietest of the 19 pitched in White Sox history. The cardboard cutouts on hand to witness a slice of history probably didn’t even bother to save their ticket stubs.

But in a season where accomplishments are hard to measure, Giolito served up one that fits easily into the record books. The first no-hitter of the pandemic era looked a lot like any no-hitter, complete with a celebration on the mound afterward that didn’t exactly follow virus protocol.

Turns out baseball really is just baseball, even with seven-inning doubleheaders, playoffs for almost everyone and ill-fitting masks everywhere.

“2020 has been a very strange year,” Giolito said through his own mask afterward. “Obviously a lot of weird stuff going on with COVID and the state of the world, so may as well throw this in the mix.”

It was just one night, and the fake crowd noises were noticeable to anyone tuning in on TV. The opposition wasn’t great, either, even though the Pittsburgh Pirates were coming off a three-game sweep of Milwaukee that almost doubled their win total for the year.

For the first time this year, baseball got the kind of moment that it seemed the weirdest season ever would never deliver. That Giolito is now on pace to win just six games this year wasn’t brought up, at least for a moment. Neither was the fact that he’s not only the sole pitcher in the American League with a no-hitter this year, but the only one with a complete game shutout.

He’s now among the favorites in Las Vegas to win the American League Cy Young award, assuming they still plan to give one out. Giolito faced the minimum 27 batters, walking just one while striking out 13. He needed just 101 pitches and threw 74 of them for strikes.

There was a bit of drama at the end, when a sinking line drive by Erik Gonzalez was snagged by right fielder Adam Engel at knee height. The cardboard cutouts didn’t give Giolito a standing ovation, but his teammates swarmed over to him and it seemed almost natural for those watching on TV.

“They turned up the (automated) crowd noise. I noticed that,” Giolito said. “The crowd noise was getting louder and louder as the game went on. That was fun.”

A no-hitter that couldn’t have come at a better time for Giolito — and baseball, too.

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