Bauer Bounces Back with Great Outing to Avoid Sweep; Indians 4, Pirates 0
Bob Toth | On 25, Jul 2018
Trevor Bauer looked like the All-Star that he was just over a week ago as he limited Pittsburgh to just two hits over seven-plus shutout innings in a 4-0 Cleveland win on Wednesday afternoon.
Bauer got a little early help from the Tribe offense and was able to do something the previous two Indians starters had not been able to do by keeping the Pirates from scoring early and often. He minimized the base traffic, allowing just one hit over the first seven innings that he worked, and got big help from his bullpen late to secure the victory as the Indians moved to 55-46 on the year and got back into the win column after three straight losses.
Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon got into trouble in the first inning, but escaped unharmed. Francisco Lindor reached on a single to right and advanced to second on an error by right fielder Gregory Polanco. Michael Brantley struck out before Jose Ramirez walked, but Edwin Encarnacion popped up the next pitch and Yonder Alonso grounded out.
Bauer ended Starling Marte’s day in the first inning, taking a big bat out of the Pirates lineup. He plunked him in the hand with a pitch with one out in the first, and he was caught stealing for the second out of the inning before being replaced defensively in the bottom of the frame. Pittsburgh went down in order in the second and got a two-out base runner after an error by Lindor in the third, but a groundout capped off the inning with no further damage.
The Tribe got a big hit in the bottom of the third with two outs to take the lead. Lindor singled in his second straight at bat with one down and moved to second on a single by Brantley. Ramirez grounded into a force at second, but picked off second to put a pair in scoring position with Encarnacion at the plate. He delivered the clutch base knock with a single to center, driving in both Lindor and Ramirez to give Cleveland its first lead of the series, 2-0.
The Pirates got their first hit of the game in the top of the fourth on a leadoff double by Adam Frazier. He was stranded as Bauer struck out the next two batters and got Josh Bell to fly out to left.
The Indians missed out on a big opportunity in the fourth, when Jason Kipnis pulled a Taillon offering down the right field line and off the side wall for a triple. He would be stranded there as Roberto Perez lined out to third and Tyler Naquin struck out swinging.
Bauer worked through a stretch of dominance on the mound in the middle innings, striking out the side in the fifth and the first batter of the sixth to set down six of seven on Ks. Two more groundouts got him out of that stanza.
Command nearly got Bauer in trouble in the seventh. Polanco walked to start the inning and after a fly out by Colin Moran, Bell walked to put two on. Bauer bounced back with a strikeout of David Freese. With the inning and potentially the game on the line, he got a fielder’s choice force at second off of the bat of Sean Rodriguez to end the inning.
Pittsburgh threatened in the eighth, but were kept off of the scoreboard. Bauer began the inning, but gave up just his second hit of the day on a single to left by Jordy Mercer. Manager Terry Francona made his way to the mound for reliever Adam Cimber, who allowed a single to Jacob Stallings to put two on. Cimber recovered and got Jordan Luplow to ground into a double play. Lefty Brad Hand entered to face Frazier and struck him out swinging with a big runner stranded at third.
The Indians got an unlikely offensive jolt in the bottom of the eighth to double their score. Ramirez walked with one out off of Kyle Crick and stole second as Encarnacion struck out for the second out. Pittsburgh turned to its All-Star reliever Felipe Vazquez to face the left-handed Alonso, but the Tribe’s first baseman won the battle by driving a 2-2 pitch deep to right for a key two-out, two-run home run to make it a 4-0 game.
Hand returned to the mound in the ninth for the Tribe and closed the door with authority on the four-out save. He got Polanco to ground to second before striking out both Moran and Bell looking to end it.
The loss ended the Pirates’ (53-50) winning streak at eleven straight games, their longest victorious stretch on the diamond in nearly 22 years.
Bauer lasted seven-plus innings for the Tribe, allowing single hits in the fourth and eighth innings to improve to 9-6. He walked two batters, hit one, and struck out ten. He was big with runners in scoring position, holding the Pirates to an 0-for-7 mark at the plate with runners at second or third.
“When you face a team that’s hot like that, I enjoy meeting the challenge head on,” said Bauer.
The Tribe’s right-hander improved to 3-0 in four interleague games this season with an MLB-low 0.33 ERA. He has allowed just one earned run over 27 2/3 innings of work against the National League this season.
Cimber earned his second hold for the Indians, while Hand earned the first American League save of his career with his four-out effort.
Taillon dropped to 7-8 with the defeat despite a quality effort on the mound. He worked seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Alonso’s blast off of Vazquez was a rare circumstance. The Pirates’ All-Star left-hander had limited left-handed hitters to a .206 average this season with seven singles in 35 plate appearances while striking out more than half of them (18 of 35). Vazquez had allowed just one homer this season and the two-run shot from Alonso was the first that he had allowed to a left-handed hitter since Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce on June 5, 2016.
The Tribe’s All-Star third baseman Ramirez has now been held hitless in four straight games, but that has not kept him off of the base paths. Despite the hitting slump, he has drawn six walks in those games, including at least one per game.
The Indians will take Thursday off before starting their two-city road trip in Detroit on Friday when the Tribe and Tigers kick off a three-game set from Comerica Park. The Pirates will head back to Pittsburgh to begin a four-game series against the New York Mets.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images