KANSAS CITY, MO. – While the Indians’ attack on Nickel-and-Dimed Royals starter Danny Duffy was Thursday, rookie right-handed Triston McKenzie’s outing was cash right away.
McKenzie kept Kansas City goalless through five innings in two hits and three runs and scored five hits in Cleveland’s 4-0 win at Kauffman Stadium. The win earned the Indians five straight wins, a four-game win over the Royals, and sole possession of first place in the American League Central Division.
Cleveland’s offense received posts top and bottom in hit order, including a few new faces who had recently joined the club and had now completed the seven game road trip. They took an early chance of a runscoring against Duffy, who led the majors with 0.60 ERA. Harold Ramirez, who was in his fourth game with the club, led the second with a double, facing Amed Rosario’s bloop single on the right field line.
Ramirez’s double was his third in five hits with Cleveland, and Rosario’s RBI gave him 11 hits against left-handers.
Jordan Luplow’s two RBI singles left in fifth was one of three direct hits ahead of Duffy. Luplow scored 0:14 deficit and scored René Rivera, who played with the club in his first game. Rivera had taken the lead in César Hernández’s third goal.
Rosario delivered an RBI triple with two outs in the sixth, which threw Duffy out of the game and gave him 12 hits with runners in goal position and two outs a year.
Rosario, speaking through interpreter Agustin Rivero, said it felt good to add runs against a good pitcher in Duffy.
“I was able to make adjustments and I can see the team play inspired baseball,” said Rosario. “Every little run at this point in the game is really important, so it felt really good to have that extra run.”
Francona said Rosario’s momentum was huge because he took off McKenzie and the Cleveland Bullpen.
“We know they would keep playing,” said Francona. “We just wanted to get away where a mistake doesn’t cost you a game.”
Franmil Reyes added a solo shot to left field in the eighth from KC left Jake Brentz. It was Reyes’ eighth home run of the year and his third extra base hit in the series.
Meanwhile, McKenzie cruised through the first five innings, knocking out five Royals players in order to defend in time and avoid trouble. He got Carlos Santana into a sharp double-game to end the first inning and grabbed a line drive back in the middle of Hunter Dozier for the final from the second.
With first and second runners in fourth, he beat Ryan O’Hearn on a check swing when third base referee Angel Hernandez ruled that O’Hearn had offered on the court.
McKenzie said his Thursday focus on serving the next batsman after giving up a walk or a hit was better than his two previous starts.
“The situations in which the walks took place and how I attacked thugs after giving up walking varied greatly,” said McKenzie. “Even as I was falling behind guys, it was much more urgent to get back into the count and let them put the bat on the ball.”
Rookie Nick Sandlin was relieved when the first two batters faced McKenzie in the sixth. Sandlin got Salvador Perez to play doubles and pulled Jorge Soler back on too short a grounder to avoid trouble. Francona praised Sandlin’s demeanor in the sixth.
“We’re getting into a situation where things look like they’re going to get a little hairy,” said Francona. “He’s not just coming out, he’s going out for the next inning.”
It was McKenzie’s best outing since his five innings, seven-hit performance on April 17 in Cincinnati, after doing two consecutive two inning shows in the past two weeks.
Francona said McKenzie was working to get his fastball on the plate.
“His fastball plays better than the speed says, but (Indian coaches) are trying to get him to bring his fastball down so he can spin his breaking ball out of the same window and then raise it for effect, not just live here above.”
James Karinchak threw a goalless eighth place and suffered a strikeout. Emmanuel Clase finished ninth by getting Hunter Dozier to play doubles and beating O’Hearn.
Asked to put the four-game sweep in perspective, Francona said it was already moving on to the next series.
“I moved on from last night, last night,” he said. “It’s the most productive way to be good. I know it was a good trip. But we have to go on. “
Next: The Indians return to Progressive Field to open a weekend series of three games against Cincinnati. Right-handed Zach Plesac (2-3, 4.78) starts for Cleveland, while left calf Miley (3-2, 2.67) takes over the hill for the Reds. The first place is planned for 7:10 p.m. The game will air on Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM 11am, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Indians Radio Network.
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