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Ohio cup stays in Cleveland for another year

At worst, the Guardians will split custody of the coveted award after their 7-3 victory this afternoon

Cleveland Guardians v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Have you heard the news? The Ohio Cup ain’t going anywhere.

For the eighth-straight year, the Cleveland Guardians are guaranteed at least a share of the victory in the annual Battle for Ohio. Their two-game sweep of the Reds assured that the worst they can do is split the season series; whether or not they get sole possession of the Cup will be determined next month when the two face off in Cleveland.

For now, bask in the glory that is Owen Miller. It was a pair of homers off the unlikely power threat that helped the Guardians seal their victory on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. The first came in the third inning and went a Statcast-projected 379 feet. The second came in the eighth inning (admittedly after the Guardians already had a sizeable lead) and went 395 feet.

Miller’s big day continues a trend that he’s held all season so far — he has found his power stroke. To this point, he’s been a doubles machine, but today he took a high sinker and a meatball of a curveball deep to prove that he can squeeze those extra few feet out of big hits if he really wants to. The two homers already put him halfway to the total he put up in his rookie season and he’s making progress toward the highest mark of his career (13 in Double-A in 2019).

Miller also took a 2-2 outside fastball the other way for a single in the sixth. Sure, why not? If this surge is real — and it will be up to the Guardians to figure out if it is before they let the wrong player get away — it solves a lot of issues for the lineup.

The seven runs scored by the Guardians, unfortunately, marked their lowest output in several games. Are they bad now? Probably.

Steven Kwan went hitless for the first time in his career and also swung and missed on his first couple pitches. But he also drew a walk with the bases loaded for an RBI and he racked up the pitch count on rookie start Nick Lodolo with his patience. He’s going to have downtimes in the box score eventually, but as long as he doesn’t lose that plate discipline he’s going to be a tremendously valuable player at the top of the order.

Speaking of the top of the order, Myles Straw exploded with a 4-for-5 day. He also drew a walk and stole a base — his fourth of the young season. Basically everyone at the top of the order drew a walk in the second inning when Reds starter Lodolo lost control of reality and time and space slipped through his fingers. He couldn’t find the strike zone for a good several batters and even hit a couple before Franmil Reyes bailed him out with a weak fly ball to center field.

José Ramírez continues his torrid start to the season, this time racking up three hits and his third homer of the season. He’s recorded a hit in every game this season and already has three three-hit games.

While he only pitched four innings by design, Triston McKenzie was outstanding in his first start of the year. The righty relied on his four-seamer for 44 of 67 pitches and it induced nine whiffs and three called strikes. Unlike every other starter this year, McKenzie entered his first full outing with an uptick in velocity as he sat in the 93-94 range and peaked at around 95.6, according to Statcast.

McKenzie scattered a couple of harmless singles to end the day without allowing a single run or a free base. One of those hits came on a low fastball to Tyler Naquin, which had to be a mistake pitch. Just had to be.

Eli Morgan spelled McKenzie for three innings and looked great once again coming out of the pen. His velocity, too, was higher than expected and it made his changeup all the better. He finished the day with four strikeouts and one earned run off a solo home run.

The Guardians will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before returning home to Progressive Field for their first true test of the season against the San Francisco Giants.