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Dominant Pitching Leads Guardians To Doubleheader Sweep vs. White Sox

Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie were fantastic on Wednesday against the reigning AL Central champions.

It's all about perspective.

Tony La Russa's Chicago White Sox basically saw their nightmare manifest itself, while Terry Francona's Cleveland Guardians couldn't have envisioned a better scenario.

Not only did the Guardians sweep the White Sox in today's twin bill, they did so in a way that kept their pitching challenges to a minimum.

In the first game of a traditional doubleheader on Wednesday, Shane Bieber gave Cleveland six terrific innings, striking out seven and allowing just one run.

Dallas Keuchel was pulled before recording an out in the second inning, thanks in large part to four errors behind him and the Guardians regularly barreling up the southpaw's best pitches.

Cleveland rolled to an 11-1 victory in the afternoon affair, but their good fortune hadn't run out yet.

Triston McKenzie followed Bieber's act with a solid performance of his own in the nightcap, lifting the Guardians to a 2-1 win. 

He didn't allow a base hit until the final batter he faced in the fifth inning, when Danny Mendick doubled home a runner from second. Adam Engel tried to score all the way from first on a ball that didn't even get to the left field corner, but Steven Kwan cut him down at the plate on a perfect throw. Engel's run would've tied the game.

McKenzie gave up just the one hit, but he scattered four walks and hit a batter along the way. It was quite a nice turnaround for "Sticks" because his career numbers against the White Sox have been brutal. He entered the day 0-2 with a 10.07 ERA (22 earned runs allowed in 19.2 innings), the vast majority of which came last season.

Triston McKenzie

On the flip side for the Sox, Jimmy Lambert couldn't get through the fourth inning before he was replaced by Reynaldo Lopez. Lambert pitched his eighth Major League game on Wednesday night, but ironically it was his fourth game against Cleveland. The 27-year old from California got knocked around in the first inning, but settled down to keep the game tight.

Kwan and Jose Ramirez hit back-to-back doubles in the first inning to give Cleveland an early lead. They opened the night cap with the two best batting averages among active, qualified American League hitters. 

Ramirez earned the RBI, his 20th in the first 11 games of the year. Only Manny Ramirez (22) ever drove in more runs at the beginning of a season. Two grand slams - including one in the first game today - have certainly helped Ramirez's stat line. But he's continuing to play like the MVP candidate he has been the last several seasons.

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Notably, Gabriel Arias picked up his first career base hit. One of Cleveland's top-ranked prospects, Arias was added to the team's Major League roster today as the 29th man for the doubleheader. He will head back to Triple-A Columbus after the game.

Gabriel Arias

The wins pull Cleveland into a first place tie with Chicago atop the AL Central at 6-5. The Guardians will look for the series sweep on Thursday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. Zach Plesac (0-1, 1.64) will take the ball for the Guardians against Dylan Cease (2-0, 1.69).

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