Unlike last night, there was no last-minute push for a comeback from the Cleveland Guardians against the Toronto Blue Jays. The offense came out flat and stayed flat.
If you want an idea of how bad this game was, neither the official team account nor the Bally Sports Cleveland account on Twitter shared a single highlight of game action. Bally Sports did tweet out a GIF of starting pitcher Triston McKenzie leaving the game and being congratulated on a great outing, but that was it.
The silver lining is Cleveland avoided being no-hit for the third time this season when Owen Miller singled in the fifth. The perfect game bid for Ross Stripling ended almost immediately thanks to the speed of Bradley Zimmer forcing an error, but the Guardians reached base only via errors and walks until Miller came through by taking a hanging slider and slapping it into the outfield.
Franmil Reyes and Amed Rosario each added hits as well, but don’t let that fool you — the offense wasn’t great tonight. Right on track with the rest of their season though, they had no problem hitting the ball hard — just nothing landed. Guardians batters recorded seven of the eight hardest-hit balls of the night; the only Blue Jay to make the list was Bo Bichette crushing a home run 105.6 mph in the fourth.
A large part of Cleveland dominating the exit velocity leaderboard is that Triston McKenzie was sensational on the mound. Bichette’s aforementioned homer was the only ball the Blue Jays were able to hit into the triple digits.
McKenzie tied his career-high with seven innings pitched, striking out four with three earned runs on five hits. He threw his four-seamer 56 times tonight, and it looked downright deadly at times, peaking at 95 mph and sitting around 93 mph. That’s an uptick over his season velocity, but more importantly, it’s holding a recent trend of maintaining low- to mid-90s on his fastball instead of hovering around 90.
Triston McKenzie averaging 93.5 mph on the 4S FB tonight, touching 95 a few times.— Justin L. (@JL_Baseball) August 6, 2021
Not sure what or if much has changed. He's had velocity ebbs and flows before, but this is his 4th straight start with his FB velocity sustaining at a good level. pic.twitter.com/oKAEKl5tIO
McKenzie just turned 24 on Monday and between Triple-A in the majors he’s pitched the second-most innings of any professional season. Is he finally growing into his 6-foot-5 frame and adding some real velocity onto the perceived speed of his fastballs? A few good games are too little to tell, but he’s heading in the right direction.
The rest of this team — not so much.