Triston McKenzie possesses the rare ability to completely dominate a baseball game.
He did it again this afternoon. Silencing the best offense in the American League for eight innings is a tall order, McKenzie worked ahead of hitters and baited them into squaring up his offerings. They could not, and they looked goofy trying.
Houston’s two hits came on back-to-back singles in the second inning. Other than a walk, that’s all she wrote for Triston McKenzie. A brief hitch interrupted McKenzie’s momentum in the 8th after he attacked pinch-hitter Kyle Tucker with two strikes to start the at-bat. Tucker battled high fastballs foul before watching a curve, slider, fastball, and curve just miss the zone.
Tucker trotted to first representing the tying run and Houston sent José Altuve to the plate. It can be intimidating to see one of baseball’s best players stride to the plate as a pinch hitter. Not this time: Altuve grounded into a double-play to end the inning and tie up McKenzie’s afternoon.
Speaking of which: this is a pretty satisfying pitching line folks:
The missed Maddux is sad but a closer winning the game on the 100th pitch is also cool.
Before the segue, I’d like to highlight Cristian Javier’s start on behalf of Houston. The Guardians lineup is tricky to face given how many pitches they are willing to watch/baseballs they eat per at-bat.
Javier allowed a single run on a solo home run. The other five hits did no more damage as he limited walks and struck out four. Stanek and Montero of the Astros pitched well in relief but the Houston offense could not mount a rally against relentless Cleveland pitching.
We could detail the individual hits, but there’s one that really matters today. Perhaps we should discuss it in a section entitled —
- Luke Maile had finally seen enough in the fifth inning.
Luke Maile's last home run: May 20, 2019.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) August 7, 2022
If you’re only going to hit one dinger every three years then what a way to pick a spot. Maile also drew a walk and continues to be a sneaky contributor on days when he plays.
- Oscar Gonzalez stroked a couple of singles this afternoon. While he did not come around to score, it is encouraging to see him pick right back up after some...odd decision-making on Friday night. Drop on the deck and flop like a fish, I suppose.
- I’m slipping in a third thing that is nothing at all here because I’ve been trying to think of one for a solid ten minutes and the guys down at the printing press are livid really breathing fire oof time to take this sentence for a little walk to keep up appearances and then, just in case someone scans well, throw in some sentencey structurey stuff. Boom.
- Tom Hamilton pointed out in the sixth or seventh inning that it felt like Cleveland would need to win 1-0. The man watches a lot of baseball.
Game Scores (ESPN model) are a little bit funky, but they are an attempt to encapsulate the overall effectiveness of a pitcher’s start. Bill James conceived of the idea and it’s been through a few permutations since. Today, Triston McKenzie earned a Game Score of 85.
This suggests McKenzie pitched the best start of his career other than August 15, 2021. He struck out 11 in 8.0 IP that night while surrendering a single hit and no walks. It netted him a 91 Game Score which is, like, pretty good dude.
There are still off days? Are you sure?!
Guess they don’t play until Tuesday when they take on the Tigers in Detroit.