Bauer Brings the Broom as Tribe Wins Seventh Straight; Indians 2, Angels 1
Bob Toth | On 27, Jul 2017
Eight impressive innings from Trevor Bauer and a late RBI-base knock by Francisco Lindor gave the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon as the Tribe won its seventh straight decision in a perfect homestand.
The end of July can be a stressful time for Major League Baseball players and that is true in Cleveland, where some have suggested that the Indians consider among their midseason upgrades an addition to their already-crowded starting rotation. But once again, another one of their existing starters stepped up in a big way to put even more pressure on the front office to look elsewhere for ways to improve the roster for the pennant push, while leaving plenty of questions about how manager Terry Francona and his staff will resolve the six-man rotation “problem”.
The Indians (55-45) already have a tough decision coming, but it is the sort of problem that is a good one to have. Cleveland has six starters vying for five rotation spots, meaning someone has to be the odd man out. Bauer, who has had a cup of coffee in the Cleveland bullpen in the past and would seem to be one of the more equipped to succeed in the role again given experience, conditioning, pitch selection, and velocity, made arguably his best start of the season in helping the Indians move ten games above the .500 mark for the first time this season while winning a season-high seventh straight game.
Bauer matched up with former Tribe farmhand J.C. Ramirez, who pitched for the organization at its top two minor league affiliates in 2014. In the midst of a good season, he would face some adversity, but found a way to minimize the effects of most of the six walks that he issued on the afternoon.
The Indians would skip the run manufacturing phase of the game the next inning. On the first pitch from Ramirez, Carlos Santana started the second with a homer to center to put Cleveland up, 1-0. The Tribe would get two more base runners in the inning, but Brandon Guyer’s single was erased on a double play grounder from Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela was stranded after his walk when Bradley Zimmer struck out swinging.
Bauer retired the side quickly in the third, needing just seven pitches while getting a Herculean effort from his second baseman Ramirez to hold on to a pop up by C.J. Cron to start the inning, as Zimmer crashed into the significantly smaller All-Star while he made the catch. Ben Revere started the fourth with a single, but he was caught stealing before a strikeout of Mike Trout and a line out by Albert Pujols.
The Angels got to Bauer in the fifth, when they knotted up the game at one. Kole Calhoun singled and advanced to second on a groundout by Andrelton Simmons. Luis Valbuena popped to short for the second out, but Cron delivered with a clutch two-out single to center to make it a 1-1 game. Juan Graterol followed with a double to left to put two in scoring position for Kaleb Cowart, but Bauer retired him swinging with one of the biggest outs of the day.
The Indians had a chance to reclaim the lead in the home half of the inning. With one out, Urshela walked and Zimmer doubled to center, but the Tribe third baseman was thrown out at the plate for the second out. With the go-ahead run still in scoring position, Lindor grounded to short. He would make up for it later.
Bauer stranded Revere at second after his leadoff single in the sixth, but the Angels threatened again in the seventh. Simmons started the inning with a single and moved to third on a double to left by Valbuena. With their best chance to take a lead, Cron grounded out to third, forcing the runners to hold with the first out. Yunel Escobar, pinch-hitting for Graterol, struck out swinging. Cowart, again up with two in scoring position and two outs, grounded to Lindor in a big wasted opportunity for the Halos.
The Indians would capitalize where the Angels failed after the stretch. Guyer walked to start the inning and was successfully sacrificed to second by Perez. Austin Jackson worked a walk, but Zimmer struck out for the second out. Down 1-2 in the count, Lindor singled to right, scoring Guyer from second and sending pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez to third as Cleveland took a 2-1 lead. Ramirez got the hook for Blake Parker, who struck out Michael Brantley swinging to prevent further harm.
Bauer returned to the mound for the eighth to face the top of the order for a fourth time. Seven pitches later, the most dangerous weapons in the Los Angeles lineup were retired, as Revere lined out on the first pitch, Trout grounded to first two pitches later, and Pujols flied to center with the 116th and final pitch of Bauer’s outing.
Parker retired the Tribe in order in the eighth and Francona went to his bullpen for Cody Allen, the only back end arm available to pitch. He struck out Calhoun looking, got Simmons to fly to left, and struck out a furious Valbuena on a check-swing third strike to end the game with his 18th save in 19 chances this season.
With their seventh straight win, the Indians finally put a little extra distance between themselves and the second place Kansas City Royals, which were idle on Thursday. Cleveland now leads KC by two games in the AL Central. The loss for the Angels dropped them to 49-54 on the season, a game behind the third place Texas Rangers but 19 games off of the pace of the first place Houston Astros in the AL West.
Bauer earned his ninth win of the season and dropped his ERA to 5.25 with eight innings of one-run baseball. He allowed seven hits and walked one while striking out six in earning his fourth win in as many decisions against the Angels. He did his work in front of a large midday crowd of 28,083 at Progressive Field in the final game of the seven-game homestand.
Ramirez took the tough-luck loss, his ninth, in a quality outing for the Angels. He worked six and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He walked six and struck out four on the afternoon.
The Indians pick things back up on Friday night from Chicago, where Cleveland will face a White Sox club that has been freely wheeling and dealing in advance of the trade deadline. Danny Salazar is slated to start the series opener for the Indians against the Pale Hose. The Angels will head north of the border to Toronto, where they will play three with the Blue Jays this weekend.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images