DETROIT – Indians starter Triston McKenzie retired the first 23 Detroit batters in order before Harold Castro lined a single to right with two out in the eighth inning and Cleveland beat the Tigers 11-0 Sunday.
“It was a pretty good fastball, but I didn’t get it past him,” McKenize said. “So it wasn’t good enough.”
The 24-year-old stunned the Comerica Park crowd of 25,684 hoping to see Miguel Cabrera‘s 500th homer. Instead, they gave McKenzie a standing ovation after Castro’s hit and another after he finished the inning with his 11th strikeout.
“I started thinking about it in the third inning, I knew I was perfect through the first time through the order, but I didn’t change my routine,” he said. “If I had to sum today up in one word, it would be ‘comfortable.’ I got into my groove right away and just kept going.”
McKenzie (2-5) came within four outs of breaking baseball’s longest no-hit drought. Cleveland hasn’t had one since Len Barker’s perfect game on May 15, 1981, against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We knew in the first inning that he was really on his game,” Detroit’s Jonathan Schoop said. “By the fourth or fifth inning, we were hoping someone was going to get a hit, and Harold saved us with a big swing.”
McKenzie, who has bounced between the Indians and Triple-A this season, pitched eight innings for the first time in his major league career.
“I was keeping an eye on him, but he was cruising,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “You don’t get a chance to throw one of those very often.”
Drew Hutchison (0-1) allowed six runs while only getting five outs in his first major league game since a five-game stretch in the Texas Rangers rotation in Aug. 2018. Hutchison went 1-1 with an 8.86 ERA, and had pitched for four Triple-A teams and another in the American Association before getting the call from Detroit.
“I was excited to be back in the majors, but nothing that affected my performance,” he said. “All I can do is wipe this out of my memory and move forward.”
Cleveland took control of the game with a six-run second inning.
With runners on first and third and no outs, Owen Miller hit a grounder to second baseman Schoop. Instead of going for a double play, Schoop threw home to get Bradley Zimmer, but catcher Grayson Greiner dropped the throw, allowing the run to score.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said he would have rather seen Schoop take the double play, but the second baseman went with his instincts.
“I’m an aggressive player and I saw I had a chance to get the guy at the plate,” he said. “It was a good throw, but I might have rushed it a little. That’s just something that happens in baseball.”
Andres Gimenez walked to load the bases and Austin Hedges made it 3-0 with a double to right. Hutchison walked Myles Straw to re-load the bases, but Amed Rosario hit into a run-scoring double play. Jose Ramirez homered to right, giving the Indians a 6-0 lead.
A walk to Franmil Reyes ended Hutchison’s return to the majors, and the Indians scored five more in the third, highlighted by Rosario’s bases-loaded triple and an RBI double by Ramirez.
“I was really happy with how we put together those two innings,” Hale said. “Jose did hit the homer, but the other nine runs all came on balls that stayed in the park. We recognized we had a chance to keep the innings going and we took it.”
After that, the game belonged to McKenzie, who struck out the top of the Tigers order in the seventh, including Cabrera to end the inning.
Hale said he was impressed by McKenzie’s relaxed behavior during the game, and the youngster was enjoying the music before going after Jacob Robson, Schoop and Cabrera in the seventh.
“I was really impressed by the `God Bless America’ singer, that got me locked in, and then I was just grooving to the music,” he said. “Before the series, we agreed as a pitching staff that we weren’t going to let Miggy get it against us. He’s an incredible hitter, but we didn’t want to go down in history.”
Cabrera struck out twice and hit a shallow flyball in his other at-bat.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
McKenzie’s bid for perfection wasn’t the first involving Detroit and Cleveland at Comerica Park. On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga threw the infamous “28-out perfect game” against the Indians when umpire Jim Joyce wrongly called Jason Donald safe at first with two out in the ninth.
RUNNING IT BACK
Hinch said that, despite Hutchison’s struggles, he will remain in the rotation and is scheduled to face the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
“He gave up a bloop single to start the game, then got the next three guys,” Hinch said. “The second was a mess, but we didn’t really give him much help. He’s here to start games.”
Cleveland: The Indians open a three-game series in Minnesota on Monday. Griffin Jax (3-1, 5.45) is scheduled to start for the Twins against Cal Quantrill (3-2, 3.13).
Detroit: The Tigers are off on Monday before hosting the Los Angeles Angels for three games starting on Tuesday. Casey Mize (6-6, 3.66) is scheduled to start against an Angels pitcher to be announced later.