CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Baltimore scored three runs in the second inning as Guardians starter Triston McKenzie walked a career-high six batters.
It was expected that he wouldn’t throw more than 80 pitches in his return from an 89-game stint on the injured list, but manager Terry Francona pulled him after 52 pitches, 19 of which found the strike zone.
“I still feel good in terms of a health standpoint,” McKenzie said. “I’m just really unhappy with how the outing itself went. I just felt like I never got into a rhythm.”
McKenzie allowed three runs on only one hit in under two full innings of work. He left the game after walking three consecutive batters.
“He just couldn’t command,” Francona said. “It was a challenge from the very beginning whether it was his release point or his head getting a bit off, he just wasn’t commanding anything and paid for it.”
McKenzie’s six walks were a career-high and a season-high for a Guardians starter. The last time a Cleveland pitcher walked six-or-more batters in a start was on April 25th, 2019 when Trevor Bauer faced the Houston Astros.
“It was hard for me to go out there and not be 100 percent in terms of feeling like I could hit my spots consistently,” McKenzie said. “At the end of the day, I’m happy with how my arm feels now and I think we move forward from there.”
The three runs scored in the second inning were all the Orioles needed with Kyle Gibson on the mound.
Gibson threw 95 pitches in seven innings and gave up one run on five hits. It was Gibson’s 100th career appearance against the AL Central. With the win, he’s now 37-33 in his career against the division.
“He’s typically had more trouble against left-handed hitters than he has with right,” Francona said. “He handled our lefties real well all day.”
The only run scored by the Guardians was in the fourth inning. Jose Ramirez led off the inning with a double down the right-field line. He advanced to third base and scored on back-to-back groundouts to second by Josh Naylor and Kole Calhoun.
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Ramirez was responsible for three of Cleveland’s five hits in the series finale. The Guardians scored two runs on six hits in the final two games of the four-game set against Baltimore.
The Guardians finished the regular season series with a 4-3 record against the Orioles. Cleveland has won or tied each of the last six season series against Baltimore.
The Guardians (74-83) are off on Monday but return to Progressive Field for the final time this season on Tuesday for a two-game set against the Reds (80-77). The two clubs split a two-game series in Cincinnati last month. Lucas Giolito (8-14, 4.60 ERA) will make his fifth start as a member of the Guardians to open the series.