Cleveland Indians right-hander Triston McKenzie will return to the majors on Wednesday but he won’t be there for long.
McKenzie will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus and start the third game of a four-game series in Detroit, but he’s expected to return to the minors after the game.
McKenzie was sent down on Saturday after giving up a combined 11 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in his past two starts. The 23-year-old McKenzie has struggled with his control all season long, issuing 30 walks in 31 1/3 innings. He’s also allowed eight homers and hasn’t gone more than five innings in any of seven starts.
McKenzie (1-3, 6.89 ERA) started twice against Detroit last season, recording a win and a no-decision.
But with Cleveland’s starting staff in a state of flux, McKenzie didn’t have to stay in the minors for the usual 10 days due to a freak injury.
Zach Plesac, a mainstay in the rotation, suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right thumb while taking off his undershirt on Sunday. His thumb got caught on a chair in the locker room.
“We got the X-rays back about the sixth inning Monday, so as you can imagine the wheels started to turn,” manager Terry Francona said. “We were already going to have a bullpen game on Wednesday.”
Considering McKenzie’s struggles, the bullpen could be needed for multiple innings on Wednesday. Plesac was scheduled to make his next start on Friday.
Cleveland has captured the first two games of the series. Outfielder Eddie Rosario extended his hitting streak to five games in Cleveland’s 4-1 win on Tuesday. Rosario has four hits in the series, lifting his season average to .226.
“I was beating myself (up) too much trying to produce and do things,” Rosario said. “I realized I just needed to have a stronger mindset and better focus and better mentality.”
Detroit’s starter for Wednesday, Jose Urena (2-4, 4.62), has allowed 11 earned runs and 24 hits in 13 innings over his last three outings. Urena gave up five runs on 10 hits in six innings against Kansas City on Friday but still wound up with the victory.
He faced Cleveland on April 11 and gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings despite issuing five walks.
The Tigers have dropped four straight. They were shut down until the ninth by Indians starter Aaron Civale on Tuesday. They had the bases loaded with one out but James Karinchak retired the next two batters to end the comeback bid.
“We play the game to win and we’ve been coming up short the last couple of games,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “We keep giving ourselves opportunities against good pitchers and somebody is going to come up with a big hit.”
Civale kept Cleveland’s bullpen fresh for Wednesday’s game with his stellar performance. He’s confident the Indians can survive the loss of Plesac.
“Same thing we’ve done ever since I’ve been up and the Indians have done for a long time — next man up and we’ve got to grind together,” Civale said in a postgame TV interview. “That’s the way we do things here. I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
–Field Level Media