Adam Engel: Putting the team on his back to end a no-hitter
Lucas Giolito is now No. 304 in the MLB’s list of no-hitters. This is a feat only 18 other White Sox players have accomplished in a 118-year history — and that's still the second-most among all baseball teams.
While Giolito’s name goes down in the history books, the narrative around and embodiment of the 2020 White Sox is that great feats are not accomplished alone. While there were many impressive acts of teamwork and athleticism in the game that resulted in Giolito’s no-hitter, a particular play stands out: Adam Engel’s powerful efforts to ensure he connected with the ball that earned Giolito's no-hitter.
Engel avoids COVID-19 and gets back to right field
Just 10 days before Giolito’s no-hitter, Engel was on the injured list after he reported contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. His return coincided with the hot streak that has rallied the White Sox into first place.
As a collective, the White Sox appeared to be a young, confident, and well oiled machine coming out of a sweep of the Detroit Tigers and a 2-1 series with the Chicago Cubs. José Abreu’s hot streak and MLB Player of the Week title, and the collective 28 HRs the White Sox amassed in just nine days, certainly contributed to the synchronicity and confidence.
The White Sox had announced themselves as a team to fear this year, and the years ahead.
Something in the air
The first game of the White Sox-Pirates series started a little spooky. A random power surge at Guaranteed Rate Field caused a game outage for those watching at home, leaving NBC Sports Chicago viewers stuck in a vast hellscape where “The More You Know” commercial was played on loop. As the prospect of a no-hitter by Giolito against the became imminently possible, the pressure within the White Sox community increased exponentially.
The team came together like a symphony to make Giolito’s no-hitter happen, and with a crucial but maybe overlooked solo in that symphony was Engel.
As the third fastest player in the MLB, there is no doubt that the White Sox had Engel in the right spot at the right time. Like everyone else watching, I was over the moon about the no-hitter. However, I was really in awe of Engel’s almost sacrificial effort to make the catch that finished the job.
I have watched the replay several times to watch how Engel swoops, like a bird of prey, stumbling slightly, to catch the ball. It was not the most effortless or prettiest catch. But it was a play with both skill and, more importantly, very evident intensity and care. Engel was not going to let Giolito or the White Sox fall short of the no-hitter, no matter what.
And Engel is not the only player that possesses this quality on the 2020 White Sox roster. This roster has youth, talent, and fun, — and maybe something that other teams should fear most, a self-effacing duty to put the team on their backs.