Triston McKenzie hit a career-high 12 and extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings, leading the Cleveland Guardians to a 4-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
McKenzie (7-6) pitched eight dominant innings, gave up five singles, walked none and worked his way out of his only troubles in the sixth.
With the runners in first and third place, McKenzie beat Eric Haase for third place. The lanky right-hander celebrated by slamming his hand into his glove as he headed back to Cleveland’s dugout.
Josh Naylor hit first rookie Elvin Rodríguez (0-3), making his first start for the Tigers since June 10. All-Star Andrés Giménez added a solo shot in the eighth inning for Cleveland.
McKenzie’s performance – he matched his longest tenure, set a career best with 109 pitches and won his third straight start – helped the Guardians end a streak of five straight losses to the Tigers. Detroit defeated four of Cleveland at Comerica Park last week.
Naylor gave the Guardians a 1-0 lead in the second when he powered Rodríguez’s first shot over the midfield wall for his 12th homer.
All-Star infielders José Ramírez and Giménez drove in runs in the third inning to give the Guardians a 3-0 lead.
Ramírez followed a double from rookie Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario’s base hit with a run-scoring single, and Giménez, who will make his All-Star debut Tuesday in Los Angeles, delivered a two-out RBI double.
Ramírez was added to the Home Run Derby on Wednesday. He has 17 homers this season but has only connected once since June 10 when he was dealing with a thumb injury.
Guardians manager Terry Francona said any hesitation about Ramírez’s participation was quickly dissipated.
“If you think about what this guy means to us, he’s earned the right,” Francona said. “And he asked, which I found really respectful. I told him if it’s something you want to do, we’ll support you.”
Tigers manager AJ Hinch passes history of the game on to his young players whenever possible.
Responding to a question about former Detroit hitter Willie Horton’s invitation to serve as a volunteer coach at next week’s All-Star Game, Hinch revealed that he educates his players about those who went before them.
Last year Hinch visited the Negro League Museum in Kansas City with some tigers. Before Thursday’s game, he pointed out the eliminated numbers in progressive field and asked players if they knew Hall of Famer Bob Feller.
“I don’t necessarily know what it’s contributing to her career,” Hinch said. “We want to share our knowledge of the game, but we also want to share the story.”
Guardians: C. Luke Maile’s jaw hurt after picking a foul tip off his mask during Wednesday’s ninth game. Francona said Maile has undergone several tests and feels fine.
Zach Plesac (2-7, 3.89 ERA) starts for Cleveland against Drew Hutchison (1-4, 4.08) as the four-game streak continues Friday.
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