During the 4-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Guardians pitcher Triston McKenzie had a difficult outing in terms of his pitch count. The Orioles forced McKenzie to throw 31 pitches in the third inning. On top of that, Orioles prospect Gunnar Henderson added insult to injury when he hit a one-run home run an estimated 429 feet. The race in the AL Central standings is very close, with Cleveland still holding the top spot and the Orioles are still gunning for a wild card spot.
McKenzie allowed two runs in five innings to drop his record to 9-12. The Guardians simply couldn’t really get anything significant going in this game. As a team, they only had five hits and despite the fact that they had loaded the bases in the fourth inning, Luke Maile fell victim to a fielder’s choice to leave runners stranded. The loss comes a day after the Guardians threw a one-hitter, and it seems like Baltimore was able to return the favor.
Unfortunately, this has become somewhat typical, Triston McKenzie doesn’t have much help. Although his team sits in first, the Guards weren’t able to produce five hits. The loss isn’t completely on McKenzie though rather, it points to a problem of minor inconsistencies in regard to team play. If the rest of the team played well and it ultimately led to a win then the spotlight wouldn’t be on McKenzie as much.
The opposite is what happens during games like these where the Guards seem to go stagnant. This is similar to McKenzie’s last start when the Guardians played Seattle when he gave up a three-run homer in the first inning and Cleveland fell 3-1.
The dagger came in the eighth inning when Ramon Urias hit a two-run bomb off a pitch from Guardians reliever Eli Morgan. Up until that home run, the Guardians Bullpen hadn’t allowed an earned run in 35 innings. McKenzie was forced to work from the first at-bat, which took nine pitches. Ultimately, he needed 23 pitches to end the first inning.
Mckenzie mentioned in a later interview that he thought he could have attacked the strike zone more. In not doing so, he fell behind in the count more often than we usually see from him. After McKenzie’s earlier home run though, he retired the next six straight batters. Three of which were put away on strikeouts.