McKenzie shines in debut for Indians
It had been 723 days since Triston McKenzie pitched in a game that counted, but he made it worth the wait. Making his Major League debut, the ninth-ranked Indians prospect allowed a run on two hits and a walk and struck out 10 over six innings to lead Cleveland to
It had been 723 days since
Making his Major League debut, the ninth-ranked Indians prospect allowed a run on two hits and a walk and struck out 10 over six innings to lead Cleveland to a 6-1 victory over the Tigers on Saturday at Progressive Field.
“It helped keep me grounded that a lot of the people that I wanted to watch this game and I wanted to pitch for definitely helped relax me and bring me back to center,” McKenzie said, “which was mainly my family, my girlfriend, even the guys in the clubhouse. [Shane] Bieber, [Aaron] Civale, they talked to me beforehand and gave me a rundown about [how] everybody’s been through it. ‘Just go out there and be you.’”
Triston McKenzie picked a Hall of Famer for his first Major League punchout.pic.twitter.com/GFRrXn30Xb— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 22, 2020
It had been a long journey back to the mound for McKenzie, who battled multiple injuries the past two seasons. After a dominant 2017 with Class A Advanced Lynchburg, where he whiffed 186 over 143 innings, a forearm problem limited the right-hander to 16 starts for Double-A Akron in 2018.
Heading into Spring Training in 2019, McKenzie was shut down with an upper back strain, then missed the rest of the year with a pectoral strain. Looking to return to action in the Cactus League this spring, weather and the COVID-19 shutdown kept him off the mound.
But in his first start since Aug. 30, 2018, McKenzie flourished, throwing 56 of 80 pitches for strikes. The 2015 first-round pick showed no rust in the first inning, throwing 12 of 13 pitches for strikes and capping it with a three-pitch punchout of two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera.
“Miggy was a huge part of that Marlins team," said McKenzie, a Florida native. "Growing up, I was [5 years old] when Miggy was starting to come up, so for me to face him when I’m now getting into the league was huge for me.”
McKenzie kept the Tigers out of the hit column until No. 7 prospect
“Sore subject,” McKenzie said of the homer. “Me and Willi are actually close. ... I talked to him a little bit before today’s game. The fact that he was the one who hit the home run off me was, I guess, very ironic, but I got him back there in the end. We’re gonna go back and forth about that, definitely."
McKenzie became the 28th pitcher in Major League history to record at least 10 strikeouts in his debut and the first since
An All-Star Futures Game and MiLB.com Organization All-Star selection in 2017, McKenzie compiled a 2.68 ERA with 394 strikeouts over 329 innings in the Minor Leagues.
No. 15 Indians prospect
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