Triston McKenzie pitched lights out in his third big league start and Tyler Naquin’s two homers provided all the offense the Tribe needed on Wednesday night, as the Cleveland Indians claimed another series win against the Kansas City Royals with a 5-0 victory.
It was a quiet night offensively for the most part. Franmil Reyes dropped a single into shallow right field in the second inning for his eighth hit in eight straight plate appearances (a streak he would snap with a flyout in the fourth). Naquin came to the plate with one out and Royals starter Jakob Junis tried to get him to chase two high fastballs, but the Indians’ right fielder waited for a hanging slider on the third pitch of the at-bat and barreled it 425 feet to right center.
Cleveland scattered a couple baserunners over the next six innings, but struggled to put a crooked number on the scoreboard, even when Junis was forced to exit after the fourth inning when Josh Naylor drilled him in the tricep with a liner that clocked a 106.9 mph exit velocity. That is, until Naquin stepped to the plate in the ninth with Reyes and Francisco Lindor at first and third and homered (again) on a first-pitch fastball to extend the Tribe’s lead.
Naquin and Reyes are both red hot right now, each collecting three hits on the night.
Triston McKenzie took care of his end of the bargain, holding Kansas City scoreless for six innings and striking out six. His velocity has leveled out a bit in his starts since his adrenaline-fueled debut, but that has not diminished his effectiveness on the mound. McKenzie only allowed three hits and did not walk a single batter. Everything was working for the rookie against the Royals, who could not even touch his curveball and flailed at his slider. But his command of his fastball was also impressive, using it as the punch out pitch for three of his six strikeouts.
Triston McKenzie, Wicked 81mph Curveball...and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/aqelMcmt3x— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 3, 2020
Defensively, the Tribe put on a clinic in Kansas City. Delino DeShields robbed Whit Merrifield of an extra-base hit in the fourth inning with a running catch that saw him crash into the center field wall. The Indians also turned three inning-ending double plays, including one in the fifth inning with one out and runners on second and third. Adalberto Mondesí grounded out to Carlos Santana at first, who fired the ball to José Ramírez to catch Ryan McBroom wandering off third base.
Phil Maton, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand combined to hold the Royals scoreless — and hitless, even — over the last three innings and preserve the shutout.
Roberto Pérez exited the game in the third inning as a “precautionary” move. Evidently he was experiencing “shoulder fatigue,” which is not a great sign considering Pérez already spent time on the Injured List earlier this season with a right shoulder injury.