By Brendan Ward
Triston McKenzie started his third game in the major league’s Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals. Continuing what has been an impressive start to his career, McKenzie pitched six shutout innings, leading the Indians to a 5-0 win in Kansas City.
The Indians started slow once again in the top of the first, as they went down in order to Royals’ starter Jakob Junis. In turn, McKenzie struck out two in the bottom as both offenses failed to mount anything.
With a hit in each of his last eight at-bats, Franmil Reyes got things started for the Indians in the second, a single to right field to continue his hot streak. With one on and one out, Tyler Naquin hit a two-run home run just over the center field wall to give the Indians the early 2-0 lead.
Through the next two, McKenzie continued to pour it on the Royals as he sat down all nine batters he faced through three innings.
Looking for some insurance in the fourth, Francisco Lindor opened the inning with a single to right field. After two quick outs from Carlos Santana and Reyes, Naquin hit a single to put Lindor in scoring position before newly acquired Josh Naylor hit a liner to Junis to end the inning.
McKenzie surrendered his first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth, a one-out single off the bat of Hunter Dozier. However, Mckenzie skated out of the inning in the next at-bat, forcing Jorge Soler into a double play ball to shortstop.
Replacing Roberto Pérez due to injury, Sandy León lined a ball that went straight at Junis, injuring the pitcher in the first at-bat of the fifth inning. Junis would come out as Kyle Zimmer came in for the injured starter. Zimmer sat the Indians down in order in his first of two innings of work.
The first threat from the Royals offense came in the bottom of the fifth, a single from Ryan McBroom and a double from Alex Gordon had runners at second and third with one out in the inning. A wild double play would get McKenzie out of the inning as he would get Adalberto Mondesi to ground a ball straight to Santana at first, before Santana caught McBroom on his way back to third base.
McKenzie returned for the final inning of his outing in the sixth, with three straight outs to put a cap on his shutout performance. McKenzie would go six full innings, striking out six, and only allowing three hits.
Josh Staumont replaced Zimmer to start the seventh, allowing a Reyes single to open the inning. Following the single up with a strikeout of Naquin, Staumont got out of the inning forcing Naylor into a double play.
Phil Maton came out to start the seventh for the Indians, opening the inning surrendering a walk to Dozier. In the next at-bat the Royals had to call on a pinch-hitter, as Ryan O’Hearn was forced to come in the game for Soler, who left with an injury. Maton struck out O’Hearn before getting a double play off the bat of Maikel Franco.
A Delino Deshields Jr. single wound up to be the only offense that either team could mount in the eighth inning as both bullpens continued to fight to keep their respective teams in the game.
The Indians would put the game away in the ninth, adding three runs in the top of the inning to extend their lead. Lindor started the inning with a lead-off double, before Santana popped up for the first out of the inning.
Reyes continued to stay hot at the plate, lining another single to right field to move Lindor to third. With two on and one out in the inning, Naquin blasted the first pitch he saw to right center field for his second home run of the game, giving the Tribe a five run cushion.
With a five run lead heading to the bottom of the ninth, the Indians handed the ball off to Brad Hand to close out the game. Hand sat down the three batters he faced to seal the shutout win over the Royals.
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