Right when you think the Guardians are out of it, they find a way to pull you back in.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Yankees, the Guardians were winners in just three of their last 11 contests.
That includes a pair of blowout losses to the Twins last week (combined score: 17-1) and a pair of equally devastating losses to the Yankees on Saturday (combined score: 19-5).
And just when the Guardians needed someone to step up, Triston McKenzie heeded the call.
He pitched seven scoreless innings, and boy did the Guardians need every single one of them.
When the dust had settled, Cleveland walked away with a 2-0 win, blanking one of the best offenses in baseball.
McKenzie was sensational on Sunday.
Over his seven scoreless innings, McKenzie surrendered just one hit and one walk against seven strikeouts.
And fans were here for it:
Triston McKenzie, Nasty 80mph Curveball. 😨 pic.twitter.com/LYPHYZHNj0
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 3, 2022
Heck of a job by Triston McKenzie, Eli Morgan, and Emmanuel Clase.
— Gage (@GageEHC) July 3, 2022
Triston McKenzie and Franmil Reyes won that game despite facing a tough Yankees lineup and half the Guardians’ lineup.
Fun game to watch but now my cholesterol is permanently higher bummer.
— Always the Jake (@alwaysthejake) July 3, 2022
Just want to extend a formal apology to Triston McKenzie for benching him in fantasy today
— Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) July 3, 2022
Curveball and command really looks sharp early for Triston so far so good #ForTheLand
— Chuck 22 (@Chuck63618910) July 3, 2022
Triston McKenzie is 24. He’s one guy I hope stays in Cleveland forever.
— Fuzzy (@fuzzyfromyt) July 3, 2022
Five innings of ONE HIT ball from Triston McKenzie!!
Sensational start to this point – now let’s see if the offense can add on after Franmil Reyes put the #Guardians ahead!
Halfway home from the stadium – Cleveland still leads 1-0!
— Jensen Lewis (@JLEWFifty) July 3, 2022
— Awesome Balls (@FantasyNerdFix) July 4, 2022
triston mckenzie on sunday’s is the greatest pitcher of all time
— -.- (@IBSLivesMatter) July 3, 2022
Franmil Reyes and Triston McKenzie have been the only bright spots today.
— La Mole (@FranmilsEyebrow) July 3, 2022
It was a major turnaround for McKenzie, who had been shelled to the tune of an 11.32 ERA over his last two starts entering Sunday.
But McKenzie’s dominance on the mound Sunday was a reminder of why the Guardians have so much faith in the righty.
Even more than that, McKenzie is just 23 and figures to be a staple of Cleveland’s rotation for years to come.
And after his stellar play on Sunday, McKenzie’s ERA dropped from 4.03 to a far more attractive 3.71.
The end of June was cruel to the Guardians, and the starting pitchers in particular.
But Sunday’s result will leave fans to rest assured, at least temporarily.
McKenzie wasn’t the only long-lost player that fans spotted on Sunday.
Franmil Reyes joined the action, as well.
In fact, without Reyes, Cleveland might well still be out there right now looking for a run.
That’s because Reyes accounted for both of Cleveland’s runs on Sunday.
And aside from a decent outing from Amed Rosario (two walks and a hit), there was zero offense from the Guardians all day.
In the fourth inning, Reyes clubbed a solo shot before sending in Rosario in the eighth inning on an RBI single.
Given how much Cleveland’s offense has been struggling of late, any help is good help.
Especially from Reyes, who figured to be a major part of the Guardians’ offensive boom this season.
Instead, Reyes has scuffled to a .213 average with just 19 RBIs and six homers.
And perhaps that would be fine if Reyes was contributing in the field.
But. . . Reyes is a designated hitter.
And when he isn’t hitting, fans wonder what he’s really bringing to the team.
Those worries persist, but fans can take comfort in Reyes playing hero on Sunday.
It might be officially time to sound the alarms on the José Ramirez front.
He didn’t suit up on Sunday, though it’s unclear what impact he would have had if he’d played.
Over his last 11 starts, Ramirez is batting just .238 with one RBI.
For comparison, in the 11 games before that, Ramirez was batting a sizzling .391 with nine RBIs.
And it’s no surprise that in those same 11 games, the Guardians went 10-1, while they’re just 3-8 over the most recent stretch.
Cleveland’s success will necessarily rise and fall on the bat and glove of Ramirez.
Is Ramirez dinged up?
At this part of the season, every player is dealing with some sort of injury or soreness.
But if Ramirez needs time to heal, he should take it.
At present, he’s not contributing enough and likely only aggravating whatever is afflicting him.