McKenzie admired Jeter and the Yankees. He now he will try to defeat them among the midges

CLEVELAND – Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Royal Palm Beach in South Florida, Triston McKenzie has revealed that he was a fan of Derek Jeter and the Yankees growing up.

Now, the Guardians right-hander will try to take them down, just as he did at Progressive Field on July 3, a game in which he shot 7.0 zeros against the New York team’s powerful offensive attack. McKenzie will take the mound on Saturday in Game 3 of the American League Division Series for Cleveland, which will try to take the lead in a best-of-five battle tied at one win apiece.

“Growing up in Florida … maybe I shouldn’t say it, but I grew up being a fan of the Captain and basically all of New York, in terms of having a lot of family there,” McKenzie, 25, said. “And having grown up in Florida, baseball is just what I love.”

That love of baseball and an arm that effectively throws a combination of fastball, slider and curveball have led McKenzie to become part of Cleveland’s excellent crop of young starters. In 2022, the pitcher established himself big with a 2.96 ERA, 129 ERA+ and 190 strikeouts in 191.1 innings after producing mixed results in his first two major league seasons.

And in his first test of this postseason, he pitched 6.0 scoreless innings of two hits and eight strikeouts against the Rays in the marathon game that the Guardians ultimately won on Oct. 8 to eliminate Tampa Bay.

The biggest difference between the version of McKenzie in 2022 and the previous two seasons was control, as he went from an awful 11.7% walk rate in 2021—earning him another minor league stint—to 5.9. % this year, which put him in the 81st percentile of Major League Baseball.

“Attack the zone early (in the counts),” replied McKenzie in explaining the improvement. “A lot of times in 2021 and 2020, I was trying to be perfect in the corners early in the at-bats. I was down a lot and had to work from behind.

“This year, my goal and focus was to go up and force (hitters) to put the ball in play. Keep my pitch count in check and let (the defense) work. I think that has allowed me to have consistency in my starts and reduce walks.”


As if the Yankees’ powerful offense wasn’t enough, the famous “midges”—or chironomids, the little flying insects in Cleveland by Lake Erie—are expected to make an appearance once again at Progressive Field on Saturday. These insects became famous in the 2007 American League Division Series between New York and Cleveland. Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain was so upset by them that he threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to be scored, in an eventual extra-inning loss to New York in Game 2. The Yankees would go on to lose that series. in four games.

Last Sunday, McKenzie attended the Cleveland Browns football game at FirstEnergy Stadium, right near Progressive Field on Lake Erie. And yes, the chironomids were seen.

“They were in there hard, so you can imagine (Saturday night),” McKenzie said. “It’s something you can’t avoid, so you have to set yourself up to hang in there and shoot.

“When you try to remove them, they don’t care and they come to you anyway. You can kill them, but they will stay there.”

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McKenzie admired Jeter and the Yankees. He now he will try to defeat them among the midges