Triston McKenzie’s worst start of the season came against an opponent he had dominated up to this point, as the Kansas City Royals battered the 24-year-old right-hander for nine hits and seven earned runs to take Game 1 of their doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians.
McKenzie has been sensational on the mound in August and September after returning from a stint in Triple-A Columbus, but his command was not what it needed to be Monday against the Royals. That much was clear in the first inning, when Whit Merrifield singled on a four-seam fastball and Salvador Perez singled off a slider to put runners on first and second with no outs. McKenzie managed to work his way out of it but he was not so fortunate the rest of the way.
McKenzie gave up two-run homers to Hunter Dozier, Andrew Benintendi, and Perez before getting the hook in the fifth inning. The only run that didn’t score via the long ball was a run plated by Dozier on an RBI single in the fourth inning. Most concerning was that McKenzie’s average velocity on all three of his pitches dipped below his season averages, especially his four-seam fastball. He averaged 91.4 mph on his four-seamer, below his season average of 92.1 mph.
Brady Singer pitched all seven innings of Game 1 for the Royals. He operated almost exclusively with his sinker and slider and the Guardians never gave him reason to deviate from that strategy, registering a 35% CSW% on his sinker, specifically.
Cleveland didn’t even get on the board until the fifth inning. Jose Ramirez lined a two-out single to center to score Myles Straw and Austin Hedges from second and third, respectively.
The Guardians will now try for a split in Game 2.