McKenzie loses perfect game in 8th, Indians beat Tigers 11-0

Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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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.”

UP NEXT

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.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.