The Guardians finished today with a win, and right now that feels like enough.
They almost let game one slip away, making Triston McKenzie sweat it out until a seventh-inning rally gave them the lead and didn’t let his outstanding start go to waste. McKenzie finished with 6.0 innings pitched, seven strikeouts, and one earned run off of three hits. Most importantly, he issued just one walk.
On that note, how many starts does he have to consistently find the zone and not walk a bunch until we consider him completely locked in? Whatever that number is, I think he’s nearing it. Today marked his seventh-straight start with one or fewer walks, and he entered today’s game with a 1.48 BB/9 since returning from the minors on July 9.
Today he served up 33 four-seamers, 27 sliders, and a dozen curveballs. The curve was especially effective, inducing a swinging strike or called strike 50% of the time. With only 72 pitches under his belt, it’s not difficult to imagine he would have pitched the eighth in a nine-inning game. But alas, this was a doubleheader and Emmanuel Clase was brought in to lock things down in the bottom of the seventh.
Just as Merritt Rohlfing noted earlier today, McKenzie’s fastball frequently found itself up in the strike zone, working all three of his four-seam whiffs in the upper half.
Offensively, Cleveland had their rally late but that was about all they did. The heart of the lineup — José Ramírez, Franmil Reyes, and Bobby Bradley — combined to go 0-for-9 with three strikeouts. It was the bottom half of the lineup that provided the runs late.
Game two was sort of a similar story, but the results were ... not as good.
Logan Allen absolutely cruised through 3.1 innings, but once Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and doubled in the fourth, he unraveled quickly. He allowed a Willians Astudillo double and a single after that to blow a 3-0 lead. Trevor Stephan came into clean-up the damage before pitching the whole fifth inning and the majority of the sixth. His only blemish in 1.2 innings was a home run from Jeffers. By that point, though — with the offense the way it is — the game was basically over, anyway.
Just like in game one, the Guardians finished with six hits. This time Ramírez, Reyes, and Bradley each had a hit, at least, and as a team, they only struck out five times. Back-to-back-to-back hits from Amed Rosario, Ramírez, and Reyes to give the Guards a 3-0 lead in the third wasn’t enough because of Allen’s aforementioned disaster of a fourth inning.
So they finish the day 1-1, 70-73 overall, and still technically second in the AL Central. At least they didn’t get no-hit again.