Cleanup Man Ramirez the Hero as Bauer Outpitches Scherzer; Indians 3, Nationals 1
Bob Toth | On 09, Aug 2016
Anything can happen in baseball and Tuesday night, those watching the Cleveland Indians defeat the Washington Nationals 3-1 were reminded that no matter the results early on, a game is not over until the final out is retired.
For the first four and two-thirds innings, Washington starter and former Indians nemesis Max Scherzer was throwing a perfect game. He brought a no-hitter into the seventh while keeping Cleveland off of the bases all but one time. Yet at the end of the day, he was the losing pitcher, Indians starter Trevor Bauer made one of his bigger starts in his Major League career, unusual cleanup hitter Jose Ramirez played the hero, and the Tribe got a big win in a game with a postseason feel to it.
It may have only been one game for the Tribe, but the team had not been playing well. The offense has provided support, but the starting pitching had been lacking. Bauer, however, gave the team its third consecutive strong start as he went toe to toe with the former Cy Young winner Scherzer.
The Washington starter brought his game against the Tribe, something he has done plenty of times in the past. He did so at near perfect levels through the first five innings, retiring 14 straight hitters until Tyler Naquin drew a two-out walk. Bauer worked around a one-out walk to Jayson Werth in the first, an error and a single in the third that had Nationals runners on the corners with two outs, a two-out walk in the fourth, a one-out single by Scherzer in the fifth that was erased on a double play grounder, and a one-out double by Anthony Rendon in the sixth.
With one out in the seventh, the Indians were gifted a run by the Nats starter. Francisco Lindor lined a two-strike single up the middle for Cleveland’s first hit of the game. With just his second runner on first base on the night, Scherzer attempted to pick off Lindor from first, but threw wildly to first baseman Daniel Murphy, allowing Lindor to race all the way to third base. The cleanup man Ramirez then delivered, extending his hitting streak with a blast off of the auxiliary scoreboard in right field to score Lindor with the game’s first run. Ramirez, who later shared that Scherzer was not pitching quickly to the plate, stole third base, which turned into a second run as Lonnie Chisenhall flared a bloop single just in front of the Washington left fielder Werth to make it a 2-0 Indians lead.
Bauer gave up a one-out double in the bottom half before handing the ball to reliever Andrew Miller, who retired both batters he faced, including Trea Turner swinging to end the inning. But Werth struck for a big run in the bottom of the eighth off of the All-Star Miller, hitting a leadoff homer to left to cut the deficit in half. After the left-hander got Murphy to fly to Naquin in center, Bryan Shaw relieved and struck out Rendon and Chris Heisey around a two-out single from Wilson Ramos.
Cleveland added a big insurance run in the ninth as Jason Kipnis doubled deep to left just past Werth off of reliever Sammy Solis. Lindor moved him to third on a grounder to first on a nice play from Murphy, but Ramirez blooped a single into center to plate Kipnis and extend Cleveland’s lead to 3-1.
Cody Allen entered for the bottom half, getting a fly out and a strikeout before Clint Robinson drew a pinch-hit walk batting for Solis. With the tying run at the plate, Allen struck out Turner swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the Indians victory and his 21st save of the season.
The Indians (63-47) picked up a needed win on their road trip, improving to 2-2 on their east coast trip with one left to play at Nationals Park. The Nationals (66-46) fell to 33-22 at home on the season and have, at least temporarily, given the Indians the lead in the all-time series between the two clubs, with Cleveland owning eight wins and Washington/Montreal having seven.
BAUER MATCHES SCHERZER
Bauer (8-5, 3.88 ERA) pitched one of his better overall games in his career, given the stage and importance of the matchup against one of the National League’s top teams and top pitchers.
He retired one out into the seventh inning, allowing four hits, two walks, and most importantly, no runs. He enabled the Indians offense, which struggled to find any luck against Scherzer, to finally break through without a mountain to climb in the runs column.
Bauer threw 92 pitches, 57 for strikes, and struck out four on the night.
UNFAMILIAR BATTERYMATE FOR BAUER
Bauer did not pitch to his usual batterymate Chris Gimenez on Tuesday, but the results were solid nonetheless. Roberto Perez was on the call and saw strong numbers from Bauer, who had a 6.10 ERA, a 1.84 WHIP, and a .318 batting average against in previous work with him behind the plate.
Coming into the game, Bauer had pitched in 24 games (including 17 starts) and had thrown 17 times to Gimenez (102 2/3 innings), four times to Yan Gomes (six innings), and four times to Perez (ten and one-third innings). His peripherals with Perez were across the board the worst of the trio.
RAMIREZ’S STREAK EXTENDED ON BIG DOUBLE
Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 13 games on his RBI-double in the seventh that turned the tide in Cleveland’s favor.
For the season, Ramirez is now hitting .384 with runners in scoring position. He has a .433 on-base percentage and .488 slugging percentage in those big opportunities.
RESULTS WITH RISP
The Indians were just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Sunday in the finale with the New York Yankees as the club left nine men on base in the loss.
While the opportunities were much more infrequent on Tuesday, the results were much better as the team was 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position and the team left just three runners stranded. Chisenhall was 1-for-1 in his only at bat in that situation, while Ramirez was 2-for-2 on the night.
SCHERZER FLIRTS WITH PERFECTION AND NO-HITTER
Scherzer (12-7, 2.80) dominated the Indians for two-thirds of the night, but one inning proved to be his undoing. After retiring the first 14 in order and throwing seven and one-third innings of hitless baseball, it was the quick damage done by Lindor and Ramirez that tilted the scale. His errant pickoff of Lindor may have been his biggest mistake, as it put the go-ahead run 90 feet away with the dangerous Ramirez at the plate with a huge run in scoring position, a situation in which Ramirez has excelled at all season long.
Scherzer worked seven full innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and ten strikeouts. It was the first time he has earned a loss against Cleveland since 2012.
CONCERN FOR TITO
Indians manager Terry Francona left Nationals Park after suffering from chest pains during the pregame interview session with the media. Bench coach and former MLB manager Brad Mills handled the managerial duties for the night, with assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro working as his bench coach for the game. The Indians indicated that the decision was strictly precautionary.
Further updates on Francona’s status were not made available immediately following the game and it is unknown if he will return to the dugout for Wednesday’s series finale.
BRANTLEY’S BICEP TENDINITIS STILL AN ISSUE
The chances of any further contributions from Michael Brantley on the playing field in 2016 took another damaging hit as the Indians announced prior to the game that the ailing left fielder had visited Dr. Stephen O’Brien at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City on Monday. It was confirmed through his visit that he “is experiencing symptoms consistent with chronic biceps tendinitis.”
There remains no time table for his return while the team is doing their “medical due diligence” in regards to his situation.
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD
While this series between the Nationals and Indians is longer than the trip through Cleveland, it will only be so by a matter of four hours or so as the two clubs play a 4:05 PM ET getaway day start from Nationals Park on Wednesday.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (11-4, 3.81) will make his first career start against the Nationals and look to improve on a 7-2 record all-time in interleague play and a 2-0 mark in two starts this season. He will be opposed by left-hander Gio Gonzalez (7-9, 4.13), who took a no-decision the last time the two teams played at the end of July and has a perfect 5-0 record against the Indians in eight career starts.
Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images