White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito traded verbal barbs with Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson following Chicago's 7-6 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night. The drama began after Donaldson hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Twins a 2-0 lead; to be more specific, it began after he crossed the plate. At that point, he allegedly shouted to his teammates, "It's not sticky anymore," per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Donaldson's implication, as best as an outsider can tell, was that Giolito's stuff wasn't as good now that he couldn't use foreign substances to improve his grip and his spin rate.
Predictably, Giolito wasn't pleased with Donaldson after the game.
"He's a f---ing pest. That's kind of a classless move. If you're going to talk s---, talk s--- to my face. Don't go across home plate and do all that, just come to me," Giolito said, according to James Fegan of The Athletic. "We won. The W's next to my name. They're in last place."
Giolito is correct about this much: the W did indeed go next to his name. He rebounded from a rotten first inning to deliver a quality start: six innings, three earned runs on six hits and a walk. He did strike out only one batter, the lowest tally of the season in a start in which he pitched more than an inning.
It's worth noting that Giolito's spin rates were also down from his seasonal average, just as they were in his previous start, which came days after Major League Baseball began to again enforce its own rules on foreign substances. According to Statcast, his fastball was minus-175 rpms; his slider was minus-185 rpms; and so on. Those numbers don't necessarily mean that Giolito was using adhesive substances to improve his pitch quality, but it's understandable if Donaldson drew that conclusion based on the numbers.
Whether or not Giolito had been using foreign substances to gain an edge, he was wrong about the Twins' position in the American League Central. Even with the loss on Tuesday, they remain a half game ahead of the Kansas City Royals for fourth. If nothing else, Donaldson can take solace in that.